Domestic abuse is an all-too familiar and uncomfortable real-life story for many Filipinos across the country. Depictions of it, whether made-up or based on letters and recollections of actual people involved, tend to take a prominent place in the plots of TV dramas and films. Indie film “Verdict” from Centerstage Productions is such a movie, about a mother’s quest for justice after she and her daughter are battered bloody by her husband. It has received a jury prize at this year’s Venice Film Fest, and was chosen to be the Philippine candidate for Best Foreign Film at the 92nd Oscars.
And now, the movie is bringing in more honors from closer to home at the 2019 Asia Pacific Screen Awards this past Thursday, November 21. The ceremony, held in Brisbane, Australia according to ABS-CBN News, named “Verdict” lead star Max Eigenmann as its Best Actress awardee. It was both a momentous occasion for the actress and another feather in the collective cap of her family of actors, considered to be one of the Philippines’ “showbiz royalty clans.” Thus much was made evident when Eigenmann received her Asia Pacific Screen Award.
On her acceptance speech, Max gave due credit to her co-stars, director Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, producer Brillante Mendoza, and their crew for helping to realize “Verdict,” which has been proving itself an awards darling. She also gave heartfelt dedications to her departed father, legendary actor Mark Gil, and her costar Kristoffer King, who also passed away two months after completion of filming. “Being here tonight has truly been one of the most momentous and exciting experiences of my life,” Max noted to the APSA audience. “Receiving this is beyond anything that I expected or imagined.”
“Verdict” sees long-suffering housewife Joy (Eigenmann) finally reaching the limits of her restraint upon seeing her child Angel (Jordhen Suan) also being physically abused by her violent husband Dante (King). Taking the matter to court, a facially scarred Joy must then plead her case to see justice done, in the face of rising legal costs, a crafty lawyer defending her husband, and a seemingly-ambivalent judge. The independent 2019 film has been exhibited at film festivals in Busan, Toronto, and Venice where it was awarded the Orizzonti New Horizon special jury prize. It was also screened locally from September 13 to 19 as part of this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
Image: Asia Pacific Screen Awards