Paoloâs win Philippinesâs lucky 3rd in Japan
Paolo Ballesteros receives his Best Actor award at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival for his role in Jun Lana’s film, Die Beautiful, yesterday.
Photo taken from the TIFF’s Facebook page.
Paolo’s win Philippines’s lucky 3rd in Japan
FiFTY SHADES OF RED - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Luck comes in threes.

On the heels of President Duterte’s fruitful visit and Kylie Verzosa’s bagging the country’s sixth Miss International crown, Paolo Ballesteros’ victory as Best Actor at the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) sustained the Philippines’ headline-hogging moment in Japan.

“I thought I was up for Best Actress,” joked Ballesteros in his acceptance speech.

He was dressed in a gown in keeping with his transgender role in Die Beautiful, directed by Jun Lana who also directed Barber’s Tales, the film that won for Eugene Domingo Best Actress, also at the same film festival two years ago.

Ballesteros’ joke made the audience laugh. A few days earlier, he sent the Japanese press wondering when, asked if he was gay because of his credible and realistic performance in the movie, the actor replied without blinking, “I’m straight.”

Director Lana seconded that by saying, “Actually, all the actors in the movie playing transgender are straight… Joel Torre, Luis Alandy and Albie Casiño.”

Inspired by the controversial killing of transgender Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude by American serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City (he is now detained at Camp Aguinaldo after having been convicted of homicide), Die Beautiful shows Ballesteros’ character inside a coffin in the later part of the story, his make-up changed everyday by his gang mates according to his last wish of making him look like a different “woman.” Jointly produced by APT Entertainment, the IdeaFirst Company and October Three Films, the movie was financed by the Hong Kong-Asia Financing Forum.

A noted make-up “magician” who can transform himself into any local or Hollywood celebrity, Ballesteros drew ah’s and oh’s as he walked the red carpet dressed like Angelina Jolie, making the Japanese media believe that he was really gay.

“I thought today it’s just going to be a red carpet thing,” Ballesteros, who showed up in a glittering gown, added in his speech. “I thought it’s just like a parade, that’s why I wore a dress.”

According to the actor’s manager Joji Dingcong, Ballesteros came back from Tokyo ahead of the Philippine delegation (also including producers Perci Intalan and Ferdy Lapuz) a few days ago since he didn’t want to be absent for days on the noontime show Eat, Bulaga! in which he is a co-host.

“So when his name was announced the winner,” said Intalan, “Jun had to go up onstage to receive the award, only to be surprised by the following announcement that Paolo was present, flown back to Tokyo by the TIFF organizers.”

Die Beautiful also won an Audience Award.

Another Filipino film, Mikhail Red’s Birdshot (produced by Pam Reyes, daughter of Philippine STAR columnist Maryann Reyes), was given the Best Asian Future Film Award by juror Giovanna Fulvi, international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival.

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