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“Metro Manila” Wins in Sundance Film Festival

Metro Manila” was shot entirely in the Philippines and features a cast of Filipinos. More of a slow-burner than an outright action film, the movie reveals how the pitfalls of surviving urban life can drive even a principled family to the ends of desperation.

British filmmaker Sean Ellis’ “Metro Manila” won the Audience Award in the World Cinema-Dramatic section of the Sundance Film Festival.

I’m so glad this film connected with everyone,” said Ellis in his acceptance speech. Ellis, an Oscar and Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts)—nominated short filmmaker, invited the cast and crew onstage when he accepted the trophy.

The fact that it’s the audience’ choice gives the film its biggest selling point. The audience is not Filipino and it’s been sold out every night,” Arcilla said.

Metro Manila captures the sights and sounds of a bustling city filled with drama, a heist plot and a little bit of crime thriller rolled into one movie. It chronicles the story of a Filipino farmer who took a chance and left his hometown in Baguio to find a better job in Manila. But when he meets an armored van driver played by John Arcilla, his morals are put to test as he takes on a job not very many are willing to take.

Arcilla said filmmaker Sean Ellis may have made a film about a person’s ultimate sacrifice but there’s more to that. “I see the plight of human survival,” Arcilla said.

The actor is no newbie to international films. He was one of the few Filipino cast members who had speaking lines in “Bourne Legacy,” the hit Hollywood movie partly shot in the Philippines that starred Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weiss. Arcilla said he’s a big fan of the Hollywood stars but he never felt star-struck around them because both Renner and Weiss acted like he was one of them. “Rachel Weiss would always give me the thumbs up sign after watching my takes and would ask me if I was a professional actor. I’d tell her I started in theater!” Arcilla shared.

Metro Manila is poetic, honest and at times almost upsettingly real. It will be fascinating to see what Ellis does next.

Here is a very captivating movie trailer of Metro Manila. Try to watch it on the big screen this coming October!

Venue: Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Production companies: Independent, Chocolate Frog
Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega
Director: Sean Ellis
Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers
Producers: Mathilde Charpentier, Sean Ellis
Executive Producers: Sean Ellis, Enrique Gonzalez, Celine Lopez
Director of photography: Sean Ellis
Production designer: Ian Traifalgar
Music: Robin Foster
Editor: Richard Mettler

Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Through its programs, the Institute seeks to discover, support, and inspire independent film and theater artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work.

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