By JULIEN MERCED C. MATABUENA
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino producer Marty Syjuco’s “Give Up Tomorrow,” a documentary based on one of the most infamous criminal cases of the ’90s in the Philippines, was recently presented with the Audience Choice VARA Award, said to be the top prize at the 2012 Movies That Matter Film Festival held at The Hague, Netherlands.
“This is my first film. I was not a filmmaker prior to this film. We are so honored and grateful,” Syjuco told the ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, as quoted in a report on ABS-CBNNews.com posted on April 28.
“Give Up Tomorrow” chronicles the story of Paco Larranaga – who, according to the same source, is associated with Syjuco by virtue of “his brother [being] married to Paco’s sister” – one of the seven men convicted of kidnapping and murdering the Chiong sisters Mary Joy and Jacqueline in Cebu, 1997.
According to the festival’s official website, “Give Up Tomorrow” was under the Main Programme Camera Justitia category along with six other films. Said category “sheds light on the many angles of the human rights and justice theme, using films and debates on transitional justice, careful administration of national and international justice and the fight against impunity.”
“In a rapid, captivating series of interviews, newspaper clippings, and archive footage, the filmmaker (who was personally involved in the case) describes how the seven random boys [have fallen] victim to a judicial error.
“He also shows how the entire legal system is like a Kafkaesque story, featuring false witnesses, cover-ups and human rights violations,” the documentary’s description read.
Prior to this victory, “Give Up Tomorrow” had already won honors last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2011, Valencia Human Rights Film Festival, and the Antenna Sydney Documentary Film Festival.
Syjuco told the ABS-CBN News Europe Bureau that his documentary “brings further attention to the injustice that Paco continues to suffer and [to] our ‘Free Paco Now’ campaign. To receive the award in the international city of peace and justice is incredible, especially since we have a campaign to bring justice to an innocent man.”
As winner of the VARA award, “Give Up Tomorrow” will be broadcast on TV across Holland.
“We’re so thrilled that the entire country will get to see our film,” Syjuco said.