Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s “Triangle of Sadness,” a satirical dark comedy film starring Filipino actor Dolly de Leon, won Cannes Film Festival’s highest award.
“Triangle of Sadness,” which also stars actors Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean and Woody Harrelson, won the Palme d’Or at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.
The social satirical film focuses on the ultra-rich who are invited to a luxury cruise run by a Marxist captain. Their upper-class statuses are negated when things take an unexpected turn on their cruise ship.
De Leon portrays Abigail, a toilet manager on the cruise ship. She finds herself becoming the leader among the rich and privileged passengers after being stranded on a deserted island.
The film received an eight-minute standing ovation after its premiere screening. While de Leon told Variety that she has not broken out in the Philippines, the actor earned widespread critical praise from international press and overnight success for her performance in the film.
According to de Leon, the Swedish production specifically looked for actors in the Philippines “because there are a lot of overseas Filipino workers all over the world.”
“I simply put myself in her shoes, because there are so many OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] in my country,” de Leon said. “I have relatives and friends who are OFWs and I know how they live, and I know them. So I know the struggle and hardship they go through, having to live in a foreign country and speak a different language they’re not used to, and having to be away from their families and do things to earn money. I just based it on that. I asked myself, ‘What if I, Dolly, was an OFW?’ That’s how I played her. A huge part of me is in Abigail.”
To the Filipino actor, Ostlund’s film is about the exploitation of power.
“The statement of the film is really that power tends to poison people’s decisions in life,” de Leon told Variety. “Because there’s this philosophy that the oppressed, rather than wanting to leave the oppressor, they’re shaped by the oppression and they imbibe it and live it, and end up becoming the oppressor. It’s an endless cycle. That’s the statement of the whole film: We as humans are cursed with this never-ending play for power and wanting to be better or higher than others, when in fact we’d all be well off if we were all just equal.”