Pinoy documentary bags top award in Dutch film fest

Posted at 04/28/12 10:47 AM

Marty Syjuco, director of documentary film "Give Up Tomorrow"
NETHERLANDS - A documentary film about a Filipino-Spanish teenager who was convicted in the 1997 massacre case in Cebu won the highest award in the "Movies That Matter" film festival in the Netherlands.

Pinoy producer Marty Syjuco's "Give Up Tomorrow," a documentary film with a controversial and sensitive theme, won the Audience Choice Vara Awards in
The Hague.

Syjuco was coy but very happy to receive the award.

“This is my first film. I was not a filmmaker prior to this film. We are so honored and grateful,” Syjuco told ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.

“Give Up Tomorrow” centers on the case of Paco Larranaga, one of the 7 who were convicted for the kidnapping and murder of sisters Mary
Joy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997.

Paco, the son of Spanish pelotari Manuel Larranaga and a member of the influential Osmena clan in Cebu, has been serving a life sentence for 15 years now.

It was on Feb. 3, 2004 when Paco and his other six co-accused were sentenced to death by lethal injection in a Manila court.

His death penalty was then commuted to life when capital punishment was abolished in the Philippines two years later.

Paco was then transferred to a prison in Spain in October 2009 under the Transfer of Prisoner Treaty between Madrid and Manila.

Apart from the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Paco’s appeals for a reinvestigation of his murder case and release reached the Fair Trials International and different human rights bodies in Europe.

The documentary film attempted to show the many loose ends in the trial of Paco’s case.

A young Dutchwoman who watched the film at the festival was very touched.

"I think he [Paco] is innocent especially if you look at what Amnesty International said and what the U.N. said about it and I believe he should be free,” said Jorinde.

Syjuco is related to Paco because his brother is married to Paco's sister.

Syjuco said that the VARA award is very meaningful because it comes from the very prestigious Movies that Matter Festival, which is associated with Amnesty International and one of the biggest and most important human rights festivals in the world.

“It also brings further attention to the injustice that Paco continues to suffer and 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,” Syjuco said.

“Also this award means that our film will have a television broadcast in Holland and we're so thrilled that the entire country will get to see our film,” Syjuco added.

The documentary film received a huge amount of support from those who are petitioning for the pardon and release of Paco.

During the Movies That Matter festival, the “Free Paco Now” petition collected 500 signatures.