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Filipina Actress/Beauty Queen Liza Diño Receives Achievement in Acting Award at The International Film Festival Manhattan

Mutya ng Pilipinas 2001 runner-up and 2007 Miss Philippines-Earth finalist, Liza Diño, received the lone acting citation during the 2011 International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) Awards Night held in New York City last November 18, 2011. She won for her pivotal role in the movie COMPOUND.

COMPOUND, a critically acclaimed psychological thriller from writer/director Will Fredo, was received with enthusiasm making it the only Filipino film to have a repeat screening during the said festival.

Produced by HUBO Productions, COMPOUND also stars John Arcilla, Jake Macapagal, Janet Russ, Joan Palisoc, Perry Escaño, Lily Chu, Marq Dollentes. Award-winning world and jazz musician Bob Aves music scored the movie.

COMPOUND delves into the mind-bending descent of a once happily-married man. It explores the chilling effects of substance abuse as it destroys himself and his relationships and the terror it brings to people inside the compound.  Within the confines of the compound, a manipulative domestic helper played with subtleness by Diño got noticed by the festival jury and its organizers.  The audience at the festival took notice of the powerful performances of the entire cast.

Also an accomplished Flamenco dancer, Diño has done numerous independent films while she was living in Manila. In 2008, she moved to California and finished a course at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles and is presently working at Spago in Beverly Hills with the famous Top Chef Wolfgang Puck. Whenever she travels to the Philippines she follows her passion and continues acting.

Her next big leading role is a Flamenco-inspired film, IN NOMINE MATRIS [In the Name of the Mother], also from director Will Fredo. Liza plays opposite Biboy Ramirez, Al Gatmaitan, Tami Monsod, and Spain’s top flamenco dancer, Ms. Clara Ramona. The movie, produced by HUBO Productions, is scheduled for release next year.

From the looks of it, we are just starting to see the talented Miss Liza Diño.

The former GMA network artist was overwhelmed when her name was announced. Looking back, she reiterates, “I was shocked, it took awhile for me to realize that I won an award. So they had to call me twice to come up on stage. But I think the beauty queen in me took over because I felt too composed during my speech. I can’t even remember what I said. It’s like that pala… It’s like you’re floating.”

We had the opportunity to speak to Liza Diño and here are some of her insights regarding her win, her role, and her future.

Actress Liza Diño with theater actress Tami Monsod

How does it feel to win the sole acting citation award from IFFM?

 It is overwhelming to say the least. There were a lot of film entries from different countries and to be given the recognition is a big honor. I am proud to represent the Philippines. It just shows as well that we have a lot of talent back home.

What does it mean to you, to have this recognition?

 It is such a great feeling to be validated as an actress, for something that you do out of passion and love for the art. I take acting as a craft and an extension of myself…so to be given this acclamation just drives me more to find avenues to share myself.

What’s your role in the movie COMPOUND?

I play ROMINA, the housemaid of the Delos Reyes family. Her character is very complex and that’s what challenged me to take on the role. She is basically the eyes and ears of the whole compound. She used her unassuming demeanor to manipulate the members of the household into exposing their vulnerability to her.

What is it like working as an actor with director Will Fredo?

Anybody who has worked with Director Will has said the exact same thing—he pulls out the rawness in you. That’s a gift that very few directors can draw from an actor. If there is such a thing as soul mates, I think that’s how we are with each other. He knows how to bring out the best and the worst in me and use it effectively to make my character come to life.

How did you start acting?

I was in college in University Philippines (UP) Diliman where I took BA speech communication. I had a theater elective class under Tony Mabesa, and during that time he was directing a play with DULAANG UP (Theater Company of the University). I was a perennial latecomer, so he said if I audition for the play, Mr. Mabesa would not fail me in my classes. The rest is history. I became a resident actress of DULAANG UP during my entire stay in Diliman.

After my reign as Mutya Tourism International, I did a National ad on Likas Papaya and GMA 7 offered me to be part of the artist pool of GMA TALENT CENTER. After that, I had the opportunity to act for both commercial and independent studios in Manila.

Flamenco Master Clara Ramona_Actress Liza Diño

Biggest influence in your acting career?

My mentors from Dulaang UP—Tony Mabesa, Direk Ogie Juliano, Anton Juan and Jose Estrella. If not for them I wouldn’t have found my voice on stage. Director Will gave me the opportunity to portray roles that allows me to explore my ability to get in touch with my vulnerability. Acting is an endless journey of discovery and I look forward to every chance to do that. It gives me high.

 What is next for Liza Diño?

 I have a film in 2012 entitled IN NOMINE MATRIS [In the Name of the Mother]. It is based on a true story of a young woman in the Philippines who is torn between love and her love for Flamenco. This is an opportunity for me to show my other passion, which is Flamenco. I’m so excited. The film is very personal to me and I’m playing the lead role in the film.