February 21, 2018, 12:58 pm
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A shot to the heart

You know that it’s August when you gladly make time to travel to Pasay to catch the Cinemalaya opening rites. Fact is that the country’s premiere independent film festival used to be held in July. 

For cinephiles, the vibe at the CCP especially during season is always invigorating, notwithstanding the evidently diminishing quality of the entries that make the final cut and the dwindling attendance. It is “cinema air,” if there is such a phrase.

It can be felt from the random, impromptu discussions one overhears after every screening. Pick or pan, it hardly matters. What does count is that you live to see another day, another moment when students, industry folks, working girls and boys, parents
toting their children along step out of their homes and offices and make an effort to contribute no matter how little to a film celebration. 

That alone is commendable if one takes into consideration that most critics who are part of groups that churn out awards annually are nowhere to be seen at the CCP premises. Neither are they coming out with capsule reviews, at the very least. 

The 13th Cinemalaya’s opening film is “Birdshot” from TBA Studios. “Birdshot,” young filmmaker Mikhail Red’s sophomore effort, is a slow burn that slowly draws the viewer in until he is held captive, completely enthralled by its technical polish and brilliant
execution. The dynamics between a father and his daughter and two policemen eventually criss-cross and the aftermath results to the loss of innocence of the young girl and the rookie officer succumbing to pointless violence.

It is a gripping work that lacks the indulgences of the younger Red’s (his father is director Raymond Red) initial foray called “Rekorder,” an entry in a past Cinemalaya edition. “Birdshot” features crackerjack performances from John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes,
Cu Aquino, and superb single-scene performances from Suzette Ranillo and Angie Ferro. As Maya, the girl who unwittingly shots an endangered animal, newcomer Mary Joy Apostol makes you go, “Where has this girl been all this time?” By the time
Apostol lays next to her dead father in the fields, sans dialog, everything else in those eloquent eyes, the audience realizes that he has been defeated. He has not been able to hold the tears back. 

“Birdshot” is that good. And heartbreaking.       
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