Give Up Tomorrow

As a tropical storm beats down on the Philippine island of Cebu, two sisters leave work and never make it home... GIVE UP TOMORROW exposes a Kafkaesque world of corruption and injustice. In a murder case that ends a country’s use of capital punishment, but fails to free an innocent man, two grieving mothers personify the chasms that divide the Philippines.

"Why should anyone care about a citizen who is half way across the world facing death penalty in a country most of us don't even know about? Because the minute you forget about justice, anywhere in the world, that's the beginning of the breakdown of society." -- Sarah de Mas, Fair Trials International (London, England) On a stormy night in July 1997, two young girls disappear without a trace... Give Up Tomorrow is a feature-length documentary film that tells the story of a high-profile miscarriage of justice and its unfolding international repercussions. Simultaneously a murder-mystery and an expose of endemic corruption in the Philippines today, Give Up Tomorrow looks intimately at the case of Paco Larranaga, a young mestizo student accused in 1997 of killing two young Chinese-Filipino sisters on the provincial island of Cebu. Capturing the rapacious media circus surrounding the trial, Give Up Tomorrow reveals the extraordinary judicial violations that resulted in Paco's death sentence and spiraling human rights abuses in the post Marcos era. Secret filming by Paco from his cell in Bilibid Prison exposes the appalling conditions of a prison system stretched to the breaking point. Spanning over a decade, Give Up Tomorrow chronicles the controversial case dubbed "The Trial of the Century", the communal grief of two mothers as they fight for polarized versions of justice, and the aftermath of the trial: one of the girls never found and Paco languishing on death row. This story is intensely personal with far-reaching global implications: Paco's case was eventually championed by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Committee; their efforts led to the abolishment of capital punishment in the Philippines, saving not only Paco's life but hundreds of inmates whose possible innocence may have been disregarded by flawed judicial and social systems. Introducing world audiences to the fragile democracy of a former Spanish and US colony, Give Up Tomorrow points to a huge crisis in the Philippine criminal justice system, a state of affairs that puts everyone who lives there at constant risk. Director's Note: Demonstrating how innocent people can all too easily end up on death row without hope of a fair trial, Give Up Tomorrow shows what happens when thousands worldwide take action and the international human rights community is able to bring justice to light. We firmly believe that our film will play an active part in helping to spur on the global death penalty debate at a time of increasing momentum within the death penalty abolitionist movement worldwide. This film serves to highlight a universal theme: the consequences for human rights of a broken justice system, especially in those countries where the death penalty remains in place. We trust that the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines provides a clear arc for the larger contextual issues addressed by the film. At the core of our story are all the elements of great fiction: corruption, political scandal, and human rights violations.

Production team