Special Jury Prize: “Verdict,” Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
Verdict, a film by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez. Produced by Brillante Mendoza is the only feature from the Philippines playing at TIFF — it screens as part of the Contemporary World Cinema program on Sept. 10, 12 and 14 — but Gutierrez, just 26, already carries with him an impressive pedigree. His first short, Imago (2016), won TIFF’s Short Cuts Award, and his second, Judgement (2018), was nominated. He counts as his mentors the award-winning screenwriter-director pair of Armando Lao and director Brillante Mendoza, who combined for Kinatay, winner of the Cannes best director prize in 2009. They also champion the “found stories” theory of filmmaking with its focus on the docudrama style reflected in Mendoza’s portrayal of the darker sides of contemporary Philippine life.
Raymund Ribay Gutierrez’s debut feature “Verdict” produced by 2009 Cannes best director winner Brillante Mendoza’s Center Stage Productions and co-produced by Films Boutique, Playtime, and Bord Cadre is on a roll with positive film reviews featured from top international press including Screen Daily, the Hollywood Reporter, and Variety.
The crime drama feature, which stars Max Eigenmann, the late Kristoffer King, Jorden Suan, and Rene Durian, follows a domestic violence case through a legal process. It is a product of the Brillante Mendoza Film Workshop and the Armando Lao Found Story School of Filmmaking.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that writer-director Gutierrez’s first film was “clearly long-awaited, with the director’s two most recent shorts, ‘Judgement’ and ‘Imago,’ selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in Cannes.”
We are very proud and happy with the overwhelming positive reviews for ‘Verdict’ as it travels in A-list international film festivals. As a Filipino film, not only does it evoke mastery of craft from a first-time director. More importantly, its timely and relevant story—that while local, still resonates in these current times and highlights the need for action in discourse regarding the rampant abuse of women everywhere—is truly moving and something that we are proud to showcase. It’s also a great dedication to the late Kristoffer King, one of the most talented actors of his time.
Gutierrez’s first short film Imago (2016), received a nomination for the Palme d’Or Best Short Film in Cannes and won Best Short Cuts at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Best Short Film Award at the Stockholm International Film Festival, and Best Short Film at the London Short Film Festival. In 2018, his second short film, Judgement (2018), received a nomination for the Palme d’Or Best Short Film in Cannes and has been selected for Toronto International Film Festival, in 2018.
Gutierrez is mentored by Cannes favourite, Brillante Mendoza, who won the prestigious Best Director Award at the festival for Kinatay (2009) and has received a long list of major industry awards and honours around the world, for his cinematic works centred on issues of social justice.