Cannes Winner ‘Ma’ Rosa’ Picked Up by First Run Features

Jaclyn Jose won the Best Actress Award at Cannes this year for her role in the official Oscar entry from the Philippines

Ma' Rosa

First Run Features (FRF) announced today that it has acquired U.S. rights from Paris based Films Distribution for Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s critically acclaimed drama, “Ma’ Rosa.”

The official Oscar entry from the Philippines, “Ma’ Rosa” tells the story of a poor family in Manila that sells drugs on the side to make ends meet, amidst the backdrop of police corruption.

FRF is planning a Spring 2017 release.

“Ma’ Rosa” is directed by Brillante Ma. Mendoza from a script by Troy Espiritu. The producer is Loreto Larry Castello for Mendoza’s Center Stage Productions.

“Ma’ Rosa” premiered in official competition at Cannes this year where lead actress Jaclyn Jose won the Best Actress Award, winning over some tough competition which included Kristen Stewart, Isabelle Huppert, Marion Cotillard and Min-Hee Kim and Tae Ri Kim.

The film also screened at Toronto International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival and is currently in high demand on the international film festival circuit.

Firmly established as one of Cannes’ auteur filmmakers, Mendoza’s debut effort, “The Masseur,” wowed audiences and won the Golden Leopard Award at the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival. His 2007 film “Foster Child” screened in Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, and the following year, “Service” screened at Cannes In Competition.  In 2009, Mendoza won Best Director award in Cannes for “Kinatay.”

As the most visible filmmaker from the Philippines globally, Mendoza continues to make films and documentaries that depict the lives of the Filipinos and the marginalized sectors of society and has cultivated an audience for alternative cinema in the Philippines. He is the first Filipino director to be honored by France with the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In the story of “Ma Rosa,” Ma’ Rosa runs a small convenient store in a poor neighborhood of Manila where everybody likes her. To make ends meet, Rosa and her husband, Nestor, resell small amounts of narcotics on the side. One day, they get arrested, and Rosa’s four children are ready to do anything to buy their parents’ freedom from the corrupt police.

The cast includes Jaclyn Jose in the titular role of Ma’ Rosa; Julio Diaz, Andi Eigenmann, Felix Roco, Mercedes Cabral, Jomari Angeles, Maria Isabel Lopez, Inna Tuason and Baron Geisler.

“We are extremely honored to bring this film to American audiences,” said Marc Mauceri, Vice President of FRF.

“Brillante is an amazing filmmaker who has captured a powerful, edgy story and spotlighted a tough slice of life in the Philippines.  With incredible performances from the cast, we couldn’t be happier to be working with our long time partners at Films Distribution for this project,” he added.

The deal was negotiated by Mauceri and Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, partner and co-founder of Films Distribution.

FRF previously released Mendoza’s 2012 film “Captive,” based on the real-life kidnapping of 20 tourists from a luxury resort in the Philippines in 2001. The film starred Isabelle Huppert as one of the hostages.