James Blanco emerged victorious at the 20th Asian Film Festival, clinching the esteemed Best Actor award for his remarkable performance in “Ang Matsing at ang Pagong” (The Monkey and the Turtle), directed by Daniel R. Palacio. Outshining 17 other nominees, Blanco’s portrayal of a hero unwittingly entangled in a disguised reality of corruption and violence captivated the jury, comprised of film director Enzo Aronica, screenwriter Roberto Recchioni, and journalist Marco Lodoli.
In their own words, the jurors praised Blanco’s passionate and nuanced interpretation of the character, as he navigated the role of a rural town’s vice mayor challenging the incumbent chief in the upcoming election. The award was presented by the director of the 20th Asian Film Festival, Antonio Termenini, and received by producers Vanessa Joy Palacio and Hilque Dairo on behalf of Blanco, who was unable to attend the event.
“Ang Matsing at ang Pagong” is the debut project of M1 Films, directed and written by Daniel Palacio. The film proudly represented the Philippines on an international stage, shedding light on social inequality, and denouncing political issues. Daniel’s tenacity in addressing pertinent societal matters in the Philippines was applauded by viewers, who were captivated by Blanco’s natural acting and creative interpretation of the character.
“I gave James the freedom to respond and react with his own interpretation of the character,” shared Daniel. “His creativity and dedication shone through in the film, and he even challenged the script on occasion, staying true to the character’s mindset. He was perfect for the role and the story I co-wrote with my mentor Armando Bing Lao.”
M1 Films executive producer Oliver Sy was also lauded for choosing a powerful story with a compelling voice for the company’s foray into the movie industry. The film’s world premiere was held at the esteemed Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy, with over 80,000 Filipinos in attendance, including overseas Filipino workers from different parts of Italy who were deeply moved by the film’s resonant portrayal of their own life story.
As the consul general of the Philippine embassy in Rome, Donna Celeste Feliciano-Gatmaytan joined Daniel, Vanessa, and Dairo at the film festival, expressing her support and admiration for the film. Daniel welcomed the predominantly Italian audience, who were fascinated by his docu-drama cinema style, and when asked by the Italian press about his future plans, he quipped, “There’s no other purpose of my film but to denounce.”
“The words of appreciation from fellow Filipinos were already a great accomplishment,” Daniel continued. “The win was the cherry on top.”
In addition to co-writing the script, Armando Lao served as the editor of “Ang Matsing at Ang Pagong,” while Jeffrey Icawat and Jerel Travezonda were the cinematographers. Joining Blanco in the talented cast were Jana Victoria, Ryan Sandoval, Raquel Villavicencio, Cataleya Surio, Dido Dela Paz, and Lou Veloso.
Details and photo provided in a recent press release.