Phl-made film wins in Tribeca Film Festival in New YorkPosted on May 2nd, 2011 under Entertainment Success
By Ryan Songalia
Audiences at Tribeca FIlm Festival Heineken Audience Award Night show and shout for Paco Larranaga’s Freedom Now
The controversial documentary “Give Up Tomorrow,” which was produced by Filipino Marty Syjuco of Thoughtful Robot Productions and directed by American Michael Collins, made a significant impact at the tenth annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, picking up a pair of awards.
The 90-minute film, which chronicles the fourteen year fight for freedom of Francisco “Paco” Larrañaga and his six co-defendants who were convicted of rape and murder in the disappearance of Cebu sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997, earned the Heineken Audience Award for best viewer reaction, as well as a special jury mention for Collins’ direction in the world documentary category.
The Heineken Audience Award earned the filmmakers a cash prize of $25,000.
Jane Rosenthal (Co-founder of Tribeca FIlm Festival with Robert De Niro) Marty Syjuco, Mimi Larranaga and Michael Collins after Give Up Tomorrow won the Audience Favorite Award at Tribeca
Filming took place on three continents over the course of six years and included interviews from Paco, which were filmed clandestinely through smuggled cameras, as from well as other Larrañaga family members, the Chiong sisters’ mother and members of the prosecution.
The jury, which was comprised of high-profile film personalities, described the film as “a powerful work of investigative journalism. We honor the filmmakers’ six years of hard work in illustrating how a society can clash with justice, and the impact on an individual life. Everyone should see this film.”
“After working on the film for so long, just getting accepted into Tribeca was like winning an award for us,” Collins told GMA News. “It meant that after all the hard work, our film would get a high profile premiere as we had always hoped. And now to get an award is more than I could have imagined.
Give Up Tomorrow Cast, Crew and Supporters at the Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival Screening in New York
“The best thing for me was to be able to share it with the family of Paco Larrañaga, who have suffered so many injustices over the years.”
It was Syjuco, who is related to the Larrañagas through marriage, who brought the case to the attention of Collins. Collins recalled being so compelled by the mounting evidence in favor of Larrañaga’s evidence, which includes a signed affidavit by nearly 40 witnesses who corroborated his alibi, that he decided to drop everything and dedicate his life to exonerating Paco, who is still serving a life sentence in a Spanish prison.
The film opened up at Tribeca on April 23 in New York City and was viewed by many in the Big Apple’s Filipino community, including Philippine Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and Filipino-American community leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis.
Michael Collins (l.) director, and Marty Syjuco, producer
“You will come out of that screening a changed person,” said Lewis, who later met with the film’s primary crew and the Larrañaga family in New York City. “It compels you to action.”
For winning the Heineken award, the film will receive two more additional airings on Sunday, May 1 at 12PM and 9PM ET at Chelsea’s Clearview Cinemas before opening at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, Canada on May 4, followed by the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, which takes place from June 8-12.
For more information, and to support the film and its cause, please visit www.giveuptomorrow.com
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia.