“Metro Manila” director Sean Ellis (far right) shares a moment with his two lead stars John Arcilla (left) and Jake Macapagal after winning at the British Independent Film Awards.

The highly-acclaimed political thriller “Metro Manila” got a shot in the arm in its campaign to clinch one of the five slots in the Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Oscar Awards after winning the British Independent Film of the Year honors at the recently concluded British Independent Film Awards (BIFA).

“Metro Manila,” United Kingdom’s official entry to Hollywood’s Academy Awards, also bagged the Best Director award for Sean Ellis, and Best Achievement in Production at Monday’s BIFA gala in London, England.

Filipino actors John Arcilla and Jake Macapagal joined Sean at the awards night attended by some of the biggest names in British cinema.

Although John and Jake didn’t win in their respective categories for Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Newcomer, both Pinoy thespians are hopeful that their film’s profile at the Academy Awards will get a boost come Oscar deliberation.

John said still feels like a winner considering that past nominees in his category included the likes of Daniel Day Lewis, Ben Kingsley and Ewan McGregor.

“They didn’t win either,” John laughed.


John Arcilla (left) with “The Hunger Games” star Stanley Tucci (right) and a close friend, MaryAnn Navarro, at the British Independent Film Awards.

Last year’s winner was Geoffrey Rush.

“Of course it would be nice if Jake or I had won, but winning the Best Film and Best Director awards are more important because it will give the movie a much needed push in the Oscars,” John told the Filipino Reporter.

“It was Sean’s night and he deserves it,” he added.

“But it’s also our night — the film, the stars and the crew of ‘Metro Manila.’ Everyone loved us and everyone was congratulating us and cheering for us.”

“We already created a small roar,” John added, “and I wish our BIFA win will help ‘Metro Manila’ get noticed by the Academy voters in Hollywood.”

In an interview with the Guardian, Sean said he decided to make a film in the Philippines because he could not drum up any interest in making what is his third film in the UK.

Sean said he drew up a script, remortgaged his house and headed to Manila with a tiny budget and a Canon 5D digital camera, which meant he did not need an enormous crew.

The resulting film, a mix of social drama and crime thriller, was released in September to positive reviews, with the Guardian calling it “one of the finest, under-the-radar surprises of the year.”

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