Venice Independent Film Critics Name ‘To the North’ Best Film

Soliman Cruz in a scene from To The North: Best Film for Venice Independent Film Critics.

Romanian film North by Mihai Mincan starring Filipino actors Soliman Cruz and Bart Guingona escaped the awards in the Orizzonte section of the just-concluded 79th Venice Film Festival.

But the good news is that the independent film critics of Venice have awarded the Premio Bisato D’Oro 2022 for best film to the star of Soliman Cruz.

It was the same Venice-based group of critics who awarded Nora Aunor her best actress citation at the same festival a few years ago for the film Brillante Mendoza, Your belly in 2012.

Soliman Cruz with To The North director Mihai Mincan and co-actor Nikolai Becker.

The cast of Mihai Mincan’s film was showcased at its world premiere in Venice. A teary-eyed Cruz rose to acknowledge the ovation and admitted, “I don’t know what to say. I’m not used to this adulation. But I’m extremely happy that the film ended on a happy note with a satisfied audience.

The actor said he was very detached watching the film for the first time. “Then the story grabbed me like this. I watched it without thinking I was in it. Then I realized I was part of a very special movie.

The 79th Venice Film Festival ended on Saturday evening (September 10) at the Sala Grande of the Palazzo del Cinema (Lido di Venezia).

Documentary by Laura Poitras All the beauty and bloodshed won the 2022 Golden Lion for Best Film.

Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for her role as the classic conductor in Todd Field’s Tar.

Colin Farrell won the Best Actor trophy for his performance in Martin McDonagh’s The Bansees of Inisherin.

It should be noted that the Filipino actor John Arcilla won last year the trophy for best actor at the Venice Film Festival for his role as a radio journalist in the film by Erik Matti At work: the missing 8.

Julianne Moore chaired the festival jury alongside fellow judges and eminent film peers Mariano Cohn, Leonardo di Costanzo, Audrey Diwan, Leila Hatami, Kazuo Ishiguro and Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

The president of the jury pointed out in her opening remarks on August 21: “I feel that so often the discussion around the future of cinema ends up being a more commercial, more business-oriented discussion. When we talk about the future of cinema, it often degrades into what the future of business is. This is not the future of art.

Meanwhile, film critic Viktor Toth considered North “One of the most complex Oriental films presented in Venice” and still “one of the most enjoyable and spectacular. “

“Through very intense close-ups and a powerful soundscape, Bosun’s monologues allow his interpreter, Soliman Cruz (known for his role as Wakwak in Norte – The end of the story by Lav Diaz), to express his full acting potential in a performance in which his deep timbre heightens the intensity of every look and exchange of dialogue,” Toth said.

He added: “The film is one of the most complex films from the Orient shown in Venice. It is also one of the most pleasant and spectacular. Mincan does not hesitate to use action sequence shots, to develop a continuous underlying tension, to place the camera in unconventional positions, but at the same time he develops a very detailed thematic department through spoken dialogues in simple English, spoken as a lingua franca but which nevertheless manages to be the spokesperson for notable ideas and messages.

The actor at the Venice Film Festival photocall.

Unknown to many, the real life of Soliman Cruz is also that of living cinema.

He lost his father at age 11. At a very young age, he found himself in a group of young dancers welcoming foreign visitors to Nayong Pilipino.

A few years ago, under drug-induced moments, he lived along the seaside sidewalks of Roxas Boulevard, living a solitary life.

He told a curious interviewer that he felt like he was living in a beachfront hotel at that time.

In fact, his young life changed when he met the acting teacher Ateneo Onofre Pagsanghan in the acting workshops. Out of foresight, Pagsanghan saw great promise in the young actor. On her advice, the then-promising actor ended up at the Philippine High School for Arts (PHSA) where his talent was honed through acting workshops.

By a sudden stroke of luck, Cruz was everywhere in movies, on television and in plays.

He was a loving dad to a gay teenage son at Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros; a deranged womanizer in Iska; a widow with sensual desires Gusto Kita with all my hypothalamus; an oppressed worker in the film Manila sky and an ex-con in Lav Diaz’s epic, North: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan.

On mainstream TV, he was PNP leader Alejandro Tarante in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyanoas the father of Judy Ann Santos in Kasal, Kasali, Kasaloand Aga Muhlach’s best friend in Miracle in cell number 7.

To The North is in fact his first film in which he is the main actor.

He was in Venice for the world premiere of To The North. A deficiency from the airline caused him to buy a replacement casual dress for the occasion. He didn’t wait for the awards night and came home without his still missing luggage.

Soliman Cruz at the Cinemalaya 18 winners festival in Dapitan. With him is Cinemalaya Best Director Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan (Blue Room).

Arrived in Manila, he flies directly to Dapitan where he attends the festivities of Cinemalaya 18: Festival of Winners. (He was the best supporting actor in Cinemalaya’s Blue Room entry.)

He once told interviewer Shirin Bhandari to whom he revealed his whole life: “Art is part of the healing process, people are killed because of their addiction. We can change. There is hope and redemption for everyone.

This is something to think about for the people behind the EJK massacre.

(All photos courtesy of Ferdy Lapuz)


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