The 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino ended just this Thursday, September 19 after a week of showcasing another fresh crop of films from the country’s rising independent filmmakers. One of the indie movies shown there, while not one of the official entries, just received a great honor along with a greater responsibility. “Verdict” from CenterStage Productions got a limited screening at the PPP, as it was already an entry for two earlier international film festivals namely Toronto and Venice, the latter of which awarded it a special jury prize. Next, “Verdict” is going to the US as the country’s official bid for an Oscar Award.
CNN Philippines reports that the Film Academy of the Philippines has designated “Verdict,” starring Max Eigenmann, Rene Durian, Jordhen Suan and Kristoffer King, to be the official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards early next year. There it will compete with other films from various countries round the world to become an official nominee for Best International Feature Film, formerly known as the Best Foreign-Language Film. The Academy made the announcement Thursday, September 19, following a jury period with members of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and luminaries from the industry itself.
The jury that selected “Verdict” for Oscar contention was chaired by notable film director Jose Carreon, with a panel of jurors containing names such as film and TV star Joel Torre alongside FDCP chief Liza Diño. It should be recalled that Diño earlier this this month had petitioned Congress to declare the month of September a commemorative month for the Filipino film industry, in honor of the September 1919 release of the first known silent movie produced in the country.
Directed by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, “Verdict” is a crime drama shining a spotlight on the problem of criminal-related domestic violence in the Philippines. It tells of the trials and tribulations of a battered housewife to an abusive petty crook, and how her quest for justice and protection from the head of the household is fouled up by a legal system that moves at glacial speed while she and her daughter live in constant fear that the next violent battering could be their last. Brilliante Mendoza, filmmaking mentor to Gutierrez, served as executive producer to the movie, which Gutierrez says is based on a true story. He expressed his desire for the film to show a serious side of life, one where things are not black and white and the law does not always play fair.
The 92nd Academy Awards, where “Verdict” will try its luck to become a nominee – and perhaps winner – of Best International Feature Film, will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 9, 2020.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News