Jaclyn Jose becomes 1st Filipino to win Cannes best actress

Jaclyn Jose beat big-name actresses including Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Marion Cotillard for the best actress award.

Actress Jaclyn Jose after winning the Best Actress award for the film Ma’Rosa, during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 69th International Cannes Film Festival. Lionel Cironneau / AP Photo
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Jaclyn Jose has become the first Filipino to win the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, for her performance in the movie Ma' Rosa as a mother who falls prey to corrupt police officers after she is forced to sell drugs to survive.

“I am so surprised. I just went to have the red-carpet walk with my daughter – my real-life daughter and my daughter in the movie also,” Jose said, referring to her daughter Andi Eigenmann, as she accepted her award. “To Cannes, thank you so much, thank you to the jury, thank you that you liked our film.”

The movie was directed by Brillante Mendoza, who in 2009 became the first Filipino to win best director at the festival for Kinatay.

Jose, who has appeared in previous films by Mendoza, said she was sharing the award with her director, her daughter and the cast of the film, as well as all Filipinos.

Jose saw off big-name competition for the award, including Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Marion Cotillard.

Ma' Rosa is about a mum-of-four who owns a small convenience store in a poor neighbourhood of Manila. To make ends meet, she and her husband resell small amounts of illegal drugs on the side. When they get arrested, she and her children become desperate and will do anything to buy her freedom from corrupt police officers.

Mendoza said before the award ceremony that the movie was based on a true story and his personal experience four years ago with a person the main character of the film was based on.

“It happened – that’s why it has to be told,” said the director, who has become known for tackling dark social issues in his films.

“As an artist, as a filmmaker, you have to share it with the rest of the world for them to realise … that such situations should not happen.”