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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 11, 2017

'Birdshot', Best Picture Winner In Tokyo Filmfest, To Be Shown As Part Of Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino Starting August 16

‘BIRDSHOT’ was the opening film in this year’s Cinemalaya Filmfest. Those who’ve seen it now claim that it’s better than any of the entries in Cinemalaya, which some say should be called the pestebal of directors na hindi marunong magdirek. ‘Birdshot’ is currently an entry in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino which starts showing in cinemas nationwide on August 16.

“Birdshot” is co-written (with Rae Red) and directed by Mikhail Red, 25, whose first directorial job was “Rekorder”, which won best production design at the 2013 Cinemalaya and later won for Red the best new director award at the Vancouver International Filmfest. “Birdshot” got initial funding from the Doha Film Institute in Qatar and the CJ Entertainment Award Asian Project Market then fully bankrolled by TBA (Tuko Films, Buchi Boy, Artikulo Uno). It later won the Best Picture in the Asian Future category of the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival and The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award at the Goteborg Film Festival.

“Birdshot” is about Maya (Mary Joy Apostol), a teenage farm girl who mistakenly shoots and kills a critically-endangered and protected Philippine Eagle in a reserved forest area in Northern Luzon. Two cops come to investigate who did this, the Chief Officer, Mendoza (John Arcilla), and the new cop, Domingo (Arnold Reyes). However, their investigation leads them to an even more horrifying discovery about a missing bus and its passenger farmers that turns it into a riveting mystery thriller about high level corruption.

Where did Red get the story idea? “I got it from a news item three years ago about a farmer who gets arrested for shooting a Philippine eagle which he doesn’t know is a treasured endangered specie,” he says.

Mary Joy Apostol is a total newcomer. How did
he recruit her? “Nag-audition siya. We really want a newcomer for the role of Maya, then we'll surround her with seasoned actors. Tamang-tama yung balance niya ng innocence and grace pero may ferocity rin in her.”

How did Mary Joy feel when she bagged the lead role in her first movie? “Hindi ko po talaga ine-expect,” she says. “Intimidated ako noong una, kasi puro magagaling ang kasama kong sina Arnold Reyes, John Arcilla and Ku Aquino as my father, Diego. And they’re all very helpful, so I feel so blessed kasi I learned so much from them while shooting the film.”

After this, TBA will also release three other good movies before the year ends: “Smaller and Smaller Circles” with Sid Lucero and Nonie Buencamino as two priests investigating a series of killings in Payatas, “1-2-3” about a boy searching for his sister who has become a child prostitute, and the recent Urian Awards favorite, "Women of the Weeping River”, which they are hoping to be chosen as the country’s entry in the foreign language film category of the next Academy Awards.