Home News features Karl Medina, Pen’s eldest son, named CineFilipino Best Actor for portrayal of Joma Sison

Karl Medina, Pen’s eldest son, named CineFilipino Best Actor for portrayal of Joma Sison


By Edwin P. Sallan
24 September 2013

Karl Medina was honestly not aware that his acclaimed portrayal as revolutionary icon Jose Ma. Sison in Sari and Kiri Dalena’s “The Guerrilla is a Poet” would make him a frontrunner for the Best Actor race in the ongoing CineFilipino film festival.

So when he lived up to many of the  fearless forecasts, a surprised Karl admitted that he really did not expect to win an award for his starmaking role as the Communist Party of the Philippines founder.

“I’m so overwhelmed. For me, it’s already a big deal to be in this film. To be given this break, this opportunity is really more than enough,” Karl told InterAksyon shortly after his win.

Not counting brother Ping’s Cinemalaya Special Citation as part of the ensemble cast of “Transit”, Karl is also the first among the talented offsprings of award-winning character actor Pen Medina to win a solo acting award and the first in the family to be recognized for a lead role. (A third brother, Alex Vincent, is the star of the Cinemalaya hit “Babagwa”.)

What makes the award even more special is that Karl actually clinched the coveted title role for this project as far back as 2008 when he was first cast as Joma by director Kiri Dalena for the GMA documentary “Case Unclosed”.

“In that documentary, there were reenactments that needed a young Joma Sison character. Manuel Garcellano, a good friend of ours, suggested his schoolmate from UP Fine Arts who happened to be the eldest son of Pen Medina, who had never acted before,” Kiri recalled in an earlier interview with InterAksyon. “We stalked him on Facebook and we found out he’s an awesome skateboarder. As we were sifting through his many skateboarding photos we saw the enormous potential.”

“None of us knew at that time that the documentary would be his audition for this film,” Sari added. “Karl is fantastic because of his natural intelligence and effortless charisma – key elements that are intrinsic to Joma Sison’s character. It is evident in his performance that acting is in his blood.”
Despite having played Joma before, Karl admits to knowing very little about one of history’s most controversial figures.

“I don’t know much Joma, although I am interested Philippine history. But I was more fascinated with the era of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio so I wasn’t exploring the not-so-distant past,” he admitted. “But after playing him in onscreen, I got to know him better as a person and understand what he’s fighting for.”

Still, Karl was nervous about portraying the man, which he initially thought wasa small role. “When I was first approached, my biggest concern was  how to deliver my dialogue. I would talk to my fellow cast members in between shoots and asked for their advice. Marami akong natutunan sa pelikulang ito.”

Because Karl is very much into skateboarding, he also admits to being a big music fan who listens to all types of genres, be it classical, rock, pop and jazz. As a matter of fact, he was supposed to be in a band with some friends. “Pero hindi matuloy-tuloy kasi, hindi nagtutugma ang mga schedule namin,” he sighed.

It’s not surprising therefore that his next project, again with the Dalena sisters at the helm, is—get ready for this—a musical. Yes, the actor and his brave directors are taking a complete 360 degree turn from “The Guerrilla is a Poet”.

“I think I’m just playing a small role in this project but I’m still nervous because I was told that I would have a singing part here so that’s another challenge for me,” he admitted.

With more challenging projects coming his way, the case for Karl Medina’s development as an actor is far from closed.

Winner of four awards, “The Guerrilla is a Poet” is still showing at Lucky Chinatown Cinema on September 24, the last day of the CineFilipino film festival.


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