Engage with the Issues in 'Give Up Tomorrow'
- Conduct fundraisers or public information campaigns to support the efforts of human rights organizations like Amnesty International or Fair Trials International to free people who have been unjustly imprisoned. In the United States, local affiliates of the Innocence Project can provide suggestions on how to start or where to find support for ongoing initiatives.
- Visit http://freepaconow.com/ and explore ways to get involved in the Free Paco Now campaign
- Research jail and prison conditions in your state, especially conditions for people awaiting trial (who have not yet been convicted of anything). Compare them to the conditions you see in the film. Decide what changes, if any, should take place and make a plan of action to address the needs. As an alternative, meet with the families of people who are incarcerated and listen to their experiences and their needs. Discuss ways your community could help meet those needs.
- Convene a screening of Give Up Tomorrow as part of a teach-in or debate on the proposition that the United States should follow the example set by the Philippines and abolish the death penalty.
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
This could be a fictional thriller—a who-done-it with an intriguing cast of characters. But it is very real. In 1997, as a tropical storm beat down on an island in the Philippines, the Chiong sisters left work and never made it home. Paco Larrañaga, a 19-year-old student, was arrested, tried and sentenced to death for their rape and murder, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence.
Give Up Tomorrow documents Larrañaga’s controversial trial—one of the most sensational ever in the Philippines. The film’s examination of the proceedings strips the veneer of raw emotions to reveal shocking corruption. For more than a decade, two grieving mothers find themselves entangled in a case that ends a nation’s use of capital punishment but fails to free an innocent man.
The filmmakers draw the audience into a straightforward, yet complex, journey that examines prison conditions, coerced confessions, hints of political favors, media sensationalism and the boundaries of international law. Uncomfortably, viewers are left to ponder the impact on individuals, families, communities and a nation when a system that is supposed to deliver justice does the opposite.
In this lesson, students will investigate how press coverage of criminal trials has the potential to influence public opinion and the rights of the accused. Using a video case study of a trial in the Philippines, the class will first discuss how a man was characterized in the media following his arrest, and then analyze the coverage of the trial and verdict. Students will then apply their media literacy skills to analyze a news story about a criminal trial in the United States.
This multi-media resource list, compiled by Erica Bess, Susan Conlon and Martha Perry Liu of Princeton Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary Give Up Tomorrow.