Now it can be told: Director Jun Lana and producer Perci Intalan of “Die Beautiful,” which won the Audience Award at the recent Tokyo International Film Festival, didn’t have an inkling that their star, Paolo Ballesteros, was back in Tokyo for the awarding ceremonies.
The Philippines won big at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival held Thursday at Roppongi Hills in Japan.
In addition to winning the Audience Choice award in a separate earlier ceremony, Jun Robles Lana’s “Die Beautiful” also won the Best Actor award for lead star Paolo Ballesteros in the main competition.
Paolo earlier left after the successful screening of their movie and the red carpet event, as he had to go back to his work in “Eat Bulaga.” When his name was called, Jun went on stage to claim his trophy, but he and Perci got the surprise of their life when they saw Paolo going up on stage to claim his best actor dressed and made up like Julia Roberts. It was the organizers themselves who made the arrangements for Paolo’s return, making it a secret to Jun and Perci to surprise them on awards night. Paolo was even billeted in a different hotel, so they were not at all aware that he’s already back in Tokyo.
Paolo was a big hit with the local Tokyo press because of “Die Beautiful.” One Japanese writer said the actor made her cry several times during the movie. Everyone’s wondering if he’s really gay and Paolo, who’s always been very evasive about this issue, told them without batting an eyelash: “I’m straight.” This surprised some of the writers present who thought he’s really gay.
“All the other actors who portrayed Paolo’s gay friends in the movie are straight,” Jun Lana later told them.
Paolo said that playing a transgender is not easy, especially when he walked on the red carpet made up like Angelina Jolie.
“It’s actually painful because I have to strap everything, make everything sexy at nagkapaltos-paltos ang balat ko,” he revealed. “And wearing those high heels, ang hirap din.” (M. Bautista, Malaya)