Jaclyn Jose becomes the first Filipino to win Best Actress at Cannes

JACLYN Jose made history after winning the Best Actress award at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, May 22. She is the first Filipino to bring home the acting honor for the Philippines at Cannes.

The 52-year-old veteran actress was hailed for performance in the film “Ma’ Rosa,” directed by Brillante Mendoza, who marks the film as his return to Cannes after winning Best Director for his film “Kinatay (Butchered)” in 2009.

In “Ma’ Rosa,” Jose plays a struggling mother who owns a small sari-sari (variety) store in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Manila. She makes ends meet with her husband (played by Julio Diaz) by selling drugs.

“The small-time drug selling and all that is happening and it’s quite alarming and something needs to be done. That’s why I decided to make a story out of this situation,” Mendoza said about the film.

“I don’t know what to say. I am so surprised,” Jose said with a shaking voice as she accepted her award at the Palais des Festivals on the French Riviera in France. An emotional Jose was joined by her daughter and “Ma’ rosa” co-star Andi Eigenmann and Brillante on stage.

“I just went through having a red carpet walk  with my daughter, my real life daughter and my daughter in the movie also,” she continued. “Thank you to Cannes, thank you so much. Thank you to the jury, thank you that you liked our film”

“Thank you also to Brillante Mendoza. I was just following whatever he tells me to do. He is such a brilliant director–a genius in the Philippines, and now, here in your country,” Jose said as she gestured towards Mendoza, who was applauding at the sidelines. “To my countrymen, to the Philippines. Thank you so much, France, for loving our work,” she concluded.

Jaclyn bested front-runners and Hollywood actresses Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron, Ruth Negga, Isabelle Huppert, and Kristen Stewart for the prestigious Palme d’Or (Gold Leaf) award.

“When I saw the line-up, I said, ‘Oh, they are all my idols and they are all good.’ (During the awards night) I was just watching and enjoying the moment. When they called my name, I got surprised and got emotional,” Jose told Reuters after the awarding ceremony.

“Who would not get be emotional, this is the Cannes film festival, this is big, especially in my country. You know, not anyone can be in the competition here or be nominated as best actress, so this is big in my country right now,” she added.

International accolades

During a press conference after the awarding ceremony, Cannes Jury member and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen described Jose as “a wonderful leading actress, a master of her skills.”

“It was an absolute beautiful, beautiful performance for lead actress. That’s why she got it,” Mikkelsen said.

French film director and screenwriter Arnaud Desplechin said: “She’s the film. Have you seen the performance she gave? She broke my heart.”

“Everybody’s heart, actually,” Shahrzad Media International CEO and Iranian film producer Katayoon Shahabi echoed.

Jose now joins the rank of other premier actresses who have won the Best Actress award at Cannes, such as Sally Field (1979), Helen Mirren (1984, 1995), Cher (1985), Meryl Streep (1989), Julianne Moore (2014), and Rooney Mara (2015), among others.

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