Filipino film “Verdict” won the Special Jury Prize at the 76th Venice International Film Festival (VIFF) organized by La Biennale di Venezia.

Verdict is written and directed by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez and produced by Cannes-awarded Academy member Brillante Ma Mendoza’s Centerstage Productions, Films Boutique of Nicolas Brigaud-Robert and Jean Christophe Simon. The main cast includes Max Eigenmann, Kristoffer King, Jorden Suan, and Rene Durian.

The 126-minute film received recognition in the Orizzonti competition of the 2019 VIFF which screened 19 feature films and 13 short films.

The Special Orizzonti Jury Prize for Verdict was announced together with the other winners judged by five international juries during the Awards Ceremony on September 8.

The Verdict Synopsis:

“Joy and her six-year-old daughter Angel live in Manila, with her husband, Dante, a small-time criminal. As so often in the past, Dante comes home drunk at night and beats Joy brutally. This time, he also hurts Angel. Joy grabs her daughter and flees to the local police post to finally get him sent to jail. Justice, Joy learns, takes time at best and is impossible to get at worst. Not without reason, she feels that she and her daughter are increasingly under threat.”

In the 76th VIFF Director’s Statement by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, the filmmaker notes why he chose to focus on domestic violence, saying, “Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of abuse in the Philippines. My interest in making a film about this topic was raised when I came across a mother mending bruises all over her body while undergoing a medico-legal check-up. Apparently, she had been physically abused by her husband during an altercation at home. Upon following-up on her case recently, I found out that she didn’t push through with the case against her husband due to its impracticality.”

Gutierrez goes on to declare his observations about social realities in the Philippines. “The cost of pursuing a case in the Philippines is astronomically high for an average Filipino. Under these circumstances, society sees and expects the legal system to be equal in every aspect, for the defendant as well as for the victim. What I am trying to show in the film is that sometimes equality in litigation leads to a more complex procedure that in turn results in impunity for the perpetrator. Orderly judicial procedures are important, but if they are the only focus, they threaten to pervert the justice they seek.”

“There are times when justice needs to be timely in order to be justice at all. If getting a verdict takes unreasonable and inordinate time, proceedings take away the meaning of seeking justice in the first place,” Gutierrez says.

The 2019 Venice International Film Festival Winner of the Orizzonti Special Jury Prize,  released by Solar Pictures, is currently screening in select cinemas in the Philippines until September 19 as an official entry to the 2019 edition of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Sandaan Showcase.

WATCH Verdict’s trailer here and SEND congratulations to the production for winning at the 2019 Venice Film Fest!

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