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A COMING-of-age thriller: “Birdshot” by filmmaker Mikhail Red

“Birdshot” tells the story of a young farm girl who wanders off into a Philippine forest reserve. Deep within the reservation, she mistakenly shoots and kills a critically-endangered and protected Philippine Eagle (haribon). As the local authorities begin a manhunt to track down the poacher, their investigation leads them to an even more horrific discovery. It stars Mary Joy Apostol as Maya, Arnold Reyes as Domingo, John Arcilla as Mendoza, and Ku Aquino as Diego.

Birdshot is the award-winning sophomore feature of Filipino director Mikhail Red which he co-wrote with Rae Red. The film is supported by the Doha Film Institute where they won a production grant.

Furthermore, the coming-of-age thriller won awards such as the CJ Entertainment Award at the Asian Project Market Awards during the 20th Busan International Film Festival as well as the Best Asian Future Film Award at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. It’s also worth-mentioning that Birdshot is the first Filipino film released worldwide by Netflix.

Yes, you read that last part right! Birdshot is indeed the first Filipino film ON Netflix. Well, it’s no surprise because the film is not only visually beautiful but it’s also very thought-provoking. Though “loss of innocence” is a common theme in a coming-of-age of film, Birdshot was able to give the audience another view – a good view of the present state of humanity and moral decay.

In the film, we see two evident characters robbed of their guilt. There is the farm girl named Maya (Mary Joy Apostol) and the newbie cop, Domingo (Arnold Reyes). The difference between these two is that Maya was too young to understand life that is why she didn’t think twice about shooting a bird. Domingo, on the other hand, is fully aware of the difference between good and evil. But with the presence of violence in his work life, he chose to forget what he was so desperately fighting for.

It’s quite sad to be honest but it is in our nature. Our actions are easily influenced by the people around us especially if they are older or more powerful. This can be a strength but it can also be a weakness. In this case, it is the latter. Because of that, our characters made mistakes causing them to suffer.

The good thing about it though is that our characters reached a resolution. It wasn’t an easy ride but it definitely wasn’t late for them to decide on a different route. In reality and our current state, I think it would be a little difficult for us to resist the changes. The way I see it, Birdshot serves as a wake up call that if we are not careful we might all end up losing the essence of morality . IMDb 8/10

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