A lifetime achievement award at 15

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By now, teen actress Therese Malvar has fully realized just how huge a deal her latest trophy is - especially after industry stalwarts like director Jun Robles Lana started congratulating her.

“They say it’s like a lifetime achievement award, and I am only 15 years old,” Therese told the Inquirer. “They say it’s for my body of work and I’ve done only six movies so far.”

Therese is one of three recipients of Screen International’s Rising Star award, which was announced at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, May 14. The other honorees are Japan’s Go Ayano and China’s Jelly Lin.

According to the Screen International website, Therese is being commended for “her performances in daring roles that have expanded the range of contemporary Philippine cinema.”

The honor “aims to bring Asia’s most exciting new talents to international attention,” organizers explained.

Therese will receive the award during the screening of Ralston Jover’s “Hamog” at the 15th New York Asian Film Festival on July 1.

“[Programmer] Sir Stephen [Cremin] told me that I’m the first Filipino to be honored,” she related.

If ever, it will be Therese’s first trip abroad - same as her chaperone, mom Cherry. Therese and her mom had just acquired their passports and recently applied for US visas, too. Therese is keeping her fingers crossed that all goes well.

Needless to say, she is “thrilled” about the prospect of enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. “I want to visit all the places I only see in the movies: the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Central Park. I’m also excited to try the city’s famous pizzas.”

She learned of the recognition in mid-April, but was instructed to keep it secret until the big announcement at Cannes. “I couldn’t even tell my family and friends. It was hard not to share my excitement and happiness.”

She admitted that the first thing that cropped up in her mind, upon learning of the Screen International award, was that she’d also receive an Inquirer Indie Bravo! trophy by the end of the year.

“Aside from a Guyito, I’ll get an Indie Bravo! award, too,” she quipped. “I’m thankful for all these blessings.”

No stranger to plaudits, Therese previously won best actress at the first CineFilipino for Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita” in 2013 and best actress at the Cinema One Originals for “Hamog” last year.

“But this latest award is my first one from abroad,” she owned up. “Ibang level.”

Therese recalled: “My mom was so happy that she wept when she learned of this latest honor. She is very proud.”

The young actress, however, is aware that attending the New York fest is not just about fame and glory. It’s also about shedding light on social issues—particularly, the plight of streetchildren, she said.

“With the assistance of our director, I was able to understand my character,” she remarked. “He knew what to say to make me feel all those dark emotions.”

To prepare for “Hamog,” she and the other cast members had an “immersion” session with real-life, solvent-addicted street urchins who live under the Guadalupe Bridge in Makati.

“In the news, these kids are portrayed as dirty and dangerous,” she related. “But each child tells a different story.”

She met a kid who would rather live in the streets than go home to a verbally and physically abusive parent.

“It’s really sad. They lack guidance and love. We hope to raise awareness … so that more people will be encouraged to help them,” she said. Inquirer.net

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