John Lloyd Cruz admitted that he cried when their film Ang Babaeng Humayo won the Golden Lion award at the recently concluded 73rd Venice International Film Festival.
"I was trying my best na hindi pumatak ang mga luha ko," recalled John Lloyd in an interview held earlier today, September 15, in Makati City.
"Pero wala, e. I couldn't help but get really, really emotional kasi it was a defining moment for our own cinema, Philippine cinema.
We're talking about the world stage. We're talking about Venice, one of the biggest [film fests]."
Venezia is considered one of the “Big Three” film festivals, along with the Cannes Film Fest and Berlin International Film Festival.
The Lav Diaz film, which runs for almost four hours, is known internationally as The Woman Who Left.
Charo Santos-Concio, ABS-CBN's Chief Content Officer, makes her movie comeback through this black-and-white film shot in her hometown in Calapan, Mindoro. She portrays a school teacher who is wrongfully accused and sent to prison for 30 years.
John Lloyd takes pride in being part of this movie, which is co-produced by Cinema One Originals and Sine Olivia.
"Proud na proud ako para kay Lav. Proud na proud ako para sa Philippine cinema sa mga sandaling iyon.
"I think Lav Diaz was able to elevate Philippine cinema."
He adds, "We were given the privilege to get front row seats to witness history. I feel so blessed, I feel so lucky."
ON PORTRAYING A CROSSDRESSER. In Ang Babaeng Humayo, John Lloyd's character is described by The Hollywood Reporter as an "epileptic drag artist" named Hollanda.
"Nagbibihis babae siya pero hindi siya operada. Isa siya sa mga characters na binago ni Ma'am Charo sa story.
"Ma'am Charo plays a very interesting role as Horacia. Isa siyang good Samaritan and isa ako sa mga transformed nung siya ay lumabas after 30 years in prison for a crime that she did not commit."
He then differentiated this project from past films wherein he played a gay character.
"Malayong-malayo. I did In My Life  where I also did a gay character. This one is entirely different.
"The physical transformation was very challenging pero mas mahirap lagi kung paano mo siya bibigyan ng buhay, paano mo siya bibigyan ng puso. You're talking about a very tormented soul.
"Nahihirapan na siya makita ang kagandahan ng buhay. Nahihirapan na siya mag-move on sa buhay niya at maniwala pa na one day, maaayos pa ang lahat at magtitiwala pa uli sa kabutihan.
"Mas mahirap pa yun kaysa sa physical transformation."
John Lloyd Cruz revealed that their movie is set in the 1990s, a time when gays were not accepted in society.
In fact, his transgender character gets abused in the film.
"Yeah, medyo may struggle kasi noong panahon na yun, hindi pa ganun pa widely accepted ang mga bakla, especially mga bakla na nagbibihis babae.
"[Set ito] in the late '90s, nung time na namatay si Mother Teresa."
Mother Teresa of Calcutta died on September 5, 1997, in India. She was canonized as a saint just last September 4.
(To view photos of their world premiere, click: John Lloyd, Charo Santos-Concio represent Ang Babaeng Humayo at Venice Film Fest red carpet)