Jaclyn Jose wins best actress at Cannes for ‘Ma’ Rosa’

Actress Jaclyn Jose pose for photographers with her Best Actress award for her role in the film Ma’ Rosa during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

Actress Jaclyn Jose pose for photographers with her Best Actress award for her role in the film Ma’ Rosa during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

By Bayani San Diego Jr./ Philippine Daily Inquirer – It’s a first for the country.

Jaclyn Jose won best actress in the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival in France for playing the titular character in Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s gritty drama “Ma’ Rosa.”

The last time the Philippines won in Cannes was the best director award of Mendoza for “Kinatay” in 2009.

Previous major acting prizes in A-list festivals won by Filipinos were the best actress triumphs of Nora Aunor for “The Flor Contemplacion Story” in Cairo in 1995 and Eugene Domingo for “Barber’s Tales” in Tokyo in 2013.

Prior to her departure, Jose told the Inquirer that the most challenging part of the film was Mendoza’s instruction “not to act.”

“I couldn’t even wear makeup,” Jose recalled. “Dante (Mendoza’s nickname) wanted our performance to be a natural as possible.”

Turned out “not acting” won her best actress in the world’s glitziest film festival.

International critics had nothing but praise for Jose’s performance.

Variety said Jose embodied her character “with naturalistic grace.”

Hollywood Reporter described her as “resilient yet understated.”

Screen International pointed out that Jose “cuts an imposing figure … she (is) the heart of the (compelling) story.

Jose plays the film’s titular character, an impoverished mother arrested by crooked cops for selling drugs.

In her speech in Cannes, Jose said the best actress award came as a “surprise.”

Jose shared her victory with her director Mendoza and costar, daughter Andi Eigenmann, who both went up the stage with her.

She previously told the Inquirer that “Ma’ Rosa” is a story that the world needs to know because it shows “how Filipino families cope and survive in spite of poverty.

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