Movies & TV

Bong Joon-ho Only Has Praise for the Team Behind On The Job: The Missing 8

When Philippine cinema and Korean cinema meet.
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The Philippine film industry is still on a high after John Arcilla’s historic Volpi Cup win at the 78th Venice International Film Festival. The veteran actor was recognized for his superb portrayal of the journalist Sisoy in Erik Matti’s On The Job: The Missing 8 (OTJ:TM8), and while he wasn’t able to attend the awarding ceremony to kiss his Volpi Cup, Matti was there to receive the award on his behalf—as well as the praises of South Korean Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho.

Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Memories of Murder) is the jury president of the main competition in Venezia ’78, and as president, he bestowed the Philippines’ first and only Coppa Volpi to Arcilla. 

The team behind The Missing 8 was in attendance to witness this moment for Philippine film, but that wasn’t enough to distract them from the sheer giddiness of being in the same room as Bong Joon-ho, who himself is a film giant in championing Asian cinema around the world. 

Filmmaker Quark Henares, who led Globe Studios in producing the film, recounted the remarkable moment Bong Joon-ho met the team behind The Missing 8. And as expected, there was plenty of internal fanboying. 

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It appears even celebrities and heads of film studios can still get starstruck in the presence of fellow cinema greats. In a series of tweets, Henares shared how Dennis Trillo, who stars as Roman Rubio in the film, “was like a schoolboy clutching his Parasite Storyboard Book.” As true fans, the duo decided to not wait until the awards dinner to meet the celebrated South Korean filmmaker. 

“Me being [an] expert stalker didn’t want to take any chances, so I dragged Dennis to him and yelled, ‘Director Bong! I produced On the Job and this…’ Bong’s eyes lit up and he told Dennis he loved his performance, which surprised me because Dennis is hardly recognizable in the film,” tweeted Henares. 

Henares and Trillo were all able to meet Bong’s fellow jury members, a powerhouse crew that includes Chloe Zhao (Nomadland, Songs My Brother Taught Me), Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple, Harriet), and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis, Enemy). 

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Fast forward to the dinner, Bong Joon-ho even asked The Missing 8 team if he could join their table, and proceeded to spend his time praising the film and asking Matti questions about the production. In true Bong Joon-ho fashion, the filmmaker joked that the modest budget of the film is proof that Matti must be a good director to still pull of the job. 

“It took me, Erik Matti, Dennis, and the team all our might not to squeal the whole time,” said Henares. 

“When the Golden Lion winner came in (France’s Happening), everyone applauded and looked at them. As soon as they passed our table, BJH turned back to us and said ‘OK. Now we can continue talking about On The Job.’” 

Even just hearing about it secondhand is a joy for Filipino film enthusiasts as the renowned filmmaker shared a few golden BTS bites of his critically-acclaimed films. According to Henares, they learned that Harvey Weinstein is, in fact, a scary guy. Weinstein and Joon-ho famously fought over Snowpiercer, and the latter joked, “He’d say, ‘what a beautiful film. Now cut the dialogue.’ Well, he’s in jail now.” 

It was no doubt a surreal moment for the team behind The Missing 8, and equally surreal for all the Filipino film enthusiasts out there.

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On The Job: The Missing 8 was directed by Erik Matt and produced by Globe Studios and Reality MM Studios. The film premiered at Venice International Film Festival and will be available in the Philippines via streaming on HBO Go.

The film has been adapted into a six-part HBO Asia Original series, and the episodes will comprise an extended version of On The Job (episode one and two) and On The Job: The Missing 8 (episode three to six). 

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Anri Ichimura
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