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‘To The North’ Filipino actor Soliman Cruz receives Venice Film Festival standing ovation

ABS CBN — 08.09.2022

Soliman Cruz. Courtesy: Yong Chavez, HFPA

The loud applause and cheers at the world premiere of ‘To The North’ left Soliman Cruz in tears.

The actor is the lead star of the Romanian film which is in this year’s Venice Film Festival in its Orizzonti lineup, a section dedicated to debut films and emerging talents.

A prolific character actor in the Filipino entertainment industry, Cruz admitted he didn’t expect that his first time as a lead actor would be in one of the top film festivals of the world.

“Kami ang mga support, so kami yung ensemble na nag-aangat dun sa bida para lalo pa siyang maging star… Hanggang ngayon hindi ko mawari kung ano itong tadhanang ibinigay sa akin ng mas mataas sa atin,” he said.

(We are the support, the ensemble that further lifts the star… Until now, I can’t understand the fate brought upon us by Him who is higher than us.)

In ‘To The North,’ Cruz plays Joel, a seaman who discovers a stowaway named Dumitru played by Romanian actor Nico Becker. Some parts of the story were based on true events that happened in 1996. The film received a standing ovation and universal praise for Cruz’s portrayal of a man trying to follow his conscience.

Fighting jet lag from a long trip from the Philippines that was marred with delays and lost luggage, the actor reflects on his first Venice experience.

“Habang nag-standing ovation yung mga tao, lumuluha na ako nung pinapanood ko yung pelikula eh. Hindi dahil naluluha ako sa ginawa ko pero naluluha ako sa nagaganap. Tapos ako pala yung nandodoon. Kasi nahihiwalay ko ang sarili ko sa audience.”

(The people were giving a standing ovation but I was already in tears while watching the film. I was crying not because of what I did, but because of what was happening. And I was even there. Because I was separating myself from the audience.)

The movie also stars Bart Guingona who plays Alan, Joel’s coworker and trusted friend.

“It’s an indie art film rather than commercial but it’s very powerful. It tells a really powerful story about Filipinos, di ba? Ang puso natin, even if it gets us into trouble,” Guingona noted.

(It tells a really powerful story about Filipinos, right? About our hearts even if it gets us into trouble.)

Guingona and Cruz said they owe their casting in the film to acclaimed Filipino director Lav Diaz, who’s also exhibiting his latest film, ‘Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon,’ in the festival.

‘To The North’ writer-director Mihai Mincan is a fan of Diaz and discovered the Filipino actors through his movies.

‘To The North’ also features popular Filipino songs that help illustrate the lives lived by Filipino men at sea.

After the film’s successful premiere in the Venice Film Festival, Cruz is hoping that it will also come out in the Philippines.

This article was first published here.