Singaporean film Ilo Ilo, starring Filipina actress Angeli Bayani, has won the coveted Camera d'Or award at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.
Angeli plays a nanny in the domestic drama helmed by Singaporean director Anthony Chen.
Hollywood actress Zhang Ziyi, a jury member of Un Certain Regard, presented the Camera d'Or award during the awarding ceremony.
She compared the race for the Camera d'Or to a "gold rush" where many are searching for the elusive prize but only a few are rewarded.
Filipina actress Angeli Bayani was shown wiping away tears while director Anthony Chen gave his acceptance speech at the Grand Théâtre Lumière in France.
Camera d'Or jury president Agnes Varda explained why Ilo Ilo won the said honor.
"We were touched by four characters, and the story of a family in Singapore. The director's intelligence and sensitivity bring forth very important issues—childhood, immigration, class struggles, the economic crisis. We were unanimous in our first round, and have chosen to award the Camera d'Or to Anthony Chen for ILO ILO."
According to its official website, Ilo Ilo "chronicles the relationship between a family of three and their newly arrived Filipino maid, Teresa (played by Angeli) who has come like many other Filipino women in search of a better life."
The film is set in Singapore during the Asian financial crisis of 1997.
In an article published in the French newspaper Le Monde, it was revealed that Anthony Chen's mother hired a Pinay maid to take care of them while they were growing up.
The Singaporean director recalls that their maid hailed from the province of Iloilo, a province in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.
During the film's May 19 premiere as part of the Director’s Fortnight section, the film was interrupted by a brownout.
When the film ended, the audience gave the filmmaker and the cast members a 15-minute standing ovation.
Ilo Ilo is topbilled by Singaporean actor Chen Tianwen, Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann and newbie Koh Jia Ler.
In this year's edition of Cannes, three Filipino full-length films were included in different sections of the prestigious film fest.
Adolf Alix Jr.'s Death March and Lav Diaz's Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan were included in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
Angeli is also part of Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, which also stars Sid Lucero and Archie Alemania.
However, both films lost to Rithy Panh's The Missing Picture (Cambodia).
(Read: Films screened in Un Certain Regard section of 66th Cannes Film Fest)
Erik Matti's OTJ (On the Job) was also screened out of competition in the Directors' Fortnight section. The action thriller stars Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Rayver Cruz, Shaina Magdayao, and Angel Aquino, among others.
(Read: Piolo Pascual and Gerald Anderson-starrer, OTJ, included in Directors' Fortnight of Cannes Film Fest)