Written by: Michelle Tiu
What if you are to learn about something you shouldn’t have learned about? Will you be a coward to protect someone you love? Or will you be brave enough to stand up for what is right even if it means losing the one you love?
One of my anticipated films in this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino was Birdshot. Directed by Mikhail Red, the film has won awards in numerous film festivals like Tokyo International Film Festival and Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, among others. Being a fan of mystery and thriller films, I had high hopes.
From the official movie trailer, Birdshot gave off a mysterious feeling which stirred my curiosity even more. The film was quite ambiguous with details, which I thought was both a pro and a con, but this paved the way to challenge the viewer to connect the dots and puzzle each piece together by paying attention to details.
The film is set in a rural area. Isolated and quiet. But something weird happened. Due to that, two policemen, Mendoza and Domingo, were assigned to investigate on a missing bus along with the passengers on board. It was a hopeless case with no leads. On the other hand, Maya, the daughter of Diego, a land caretaker in the area, shot a Philippine Eagle to prove to her dad that she is now a grown-up who can take care of herself. Soon, Mendoza and Domingo were told to drop their case in order to pursue the case of the missing haribon.
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Domingo was a family man. He wanted to prove himself and bring justice where it is due. He was perseverant with pursuing the case on the missing bus, but because of a phone call accompanying a threat, he was forced to turn into a “monster” and showed his sinister side. Working with Domingo, was Mendoza, who embodied the stereotypical policeman with no empathy and only wanted to get his job done. Through the investigation, Diego and Maya were suspected to be the killer of the eagle. This complicated things and Diego was caught up with violence, but all he wanted was a life away from noise and to protect all that he had, which was Maya.
From here, it was made clear that the film would not censor violence and corruption. Every violent scene was amazingly directed and acted to surely leave an impression on the viewer. Corruption in the government was also portrayed, with officials being puppets of the rich in order to hide their illegal activities.
Although most Filipino indie films tackle issues on the Philippine society, Birdshot not only showed just how fragile life is, but how the poor tend to come out the weakest in this dog-eat-dog world. The film might be too slow-paced, but this pacing is what contributed to the movie’s ending leaving a huge impact.
Birdshot is definitely a dark and heavy film, but one that will leave you thinking.