ACTOR John Arcilla receives the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. — PHOTO BY MICHELLE ANNE P. SOLIMAN

ACTOR John Arcilla finally received the Venice International Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actor that he won at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in September last year for his work on Erik Matti’s On the Job: The Missing 8.

The trophy was presented to him at the WAGI! Celebration of Filipino Excellence film screening and discussion series at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on Feb. 18.

After the special screening of On the Job: The Missing 8, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Marco Clemente presented the award to Mr. Arcilla.

The Venice International Film Festival, founded in 1932, is considered the world’s oldest film fest which aims to raise awareness and promote international cinemas in all its forms.

In his speech, Mr. Clemente said that the Volpi Cup is “comparable to the Oscar for Best Actor and Supporting Actor.”

“The general public do not know that the Coppa Volpi is practically another Oscar. So, it’s important to know how prestigious this award is for [John] Arcilla,” Mr. Clemente said.

Among the previous Best Actor Volpi Cup winners are Brad Pitt, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Joaquin Phoenix, Javier Bardem, Ben Affleck, and Sean Penn.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Arcilla said that he always believed in acting as a noble profession.

“When we create characters, it is a study of human behavior,” Mr. Arcilla said. “When we study an era, the milieu of a certain story — for whom and when it was written, where the story took place — it is, for me, comparable to social science.

“Performances touch lives, [and] broken hearts. Performances can reach out to lost souls, can encourage decisions to spectators, to a group of people, maybe, to a community,” he added. “That’s how powerful our work is. Or I think, that’s how powerful my work is. That’s why I keep on doing what I do as an actor.”

Mr. Arcilla dedicated the award to family who died during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and concluded his speech by offering the win to the Filipino people. “Mabuhay tayong lahat. Ito ay para sa atin. (Long live the Filipinos. This [award] is for us.),” he said.

On the Job: The Missing 8 made its world premiere in the Main Competition for the Golden Lion at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021.

The crime drama is a sequel to On the Job (2013), a film about penitentiary prisoners who serve as assassins. Directed by Erik Matti and written by Michiko Yamamoto, the sequel follows radio journalist Sisoy Salas (played by Mr. Arcilla) who investigates the disappearance of his colleagues. It also follows Roman Rubio (Denis Trillo), a prisoner temporarily brought out of prison to carry out executions.

During a discussion after the CCP screening, Mr. Matti announced that On the Job: The Series — in which The Missing 8 plus the original film, On the Job, including never-before-seen footage from the first film, are turned into a six-part series — will be the first HBO Asia Original show to launch in HBO Max in Europe and North America on Feb. 24.

Mr. Matti added that production of a second season of the series is planned for April 2023.

“I think right now, we’re positioned to showcase Filipino talent abroad. This, hopefully, can be an awaking to our peers in the business, that we can cross our borders and showcase our talents out there and dream about bigger projects,” the film’s producer, Ronald Stephen “Dondon” Monteverde, said.

The film is scheduled to screen in more international film festivals this year, including the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland and the Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy. In March, it will be the closing film at the Montañosa Film Festival 2022 in Baguio City.

On the Job: The Series is currently available to stream on HBO Go. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman