Mikhail Red’s ‘Birdshot’ in centerpiece gala and in competition at NYC Asian filmfest

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Mary Joy Apostol fires a shot that uncovers a dark secret in ‘Birdshot’

Mary Joy Apostol fires a shot that uncovers a dark secret in ‘Birdshot’

Mikhail Red’s slow-burning thriller “Birdshot” will be the Centerpiece Gala of the 16th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place from June 30 to July 13 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and July 14 to 16 at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea.

It will be the North American premiere of “Birdshot,” about a young farm girl who accidentally shoots and kills an endangered Philippine eagle. The film takes viewers to the intriguing manhunt for the presumed poacher.

The NYAFF, North America’s leading festival of Asian cinema, will showcase 57 feature films, and will feature appearances by more than 20 international filmmakers and celebrity guests from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia.

This year, all three of NYAFF’s Gala screenings are brilliant reinventions of the thriller genre. The Opening Gala will be Nattawut Poonpiriya’s “Bad Genius,” an exhilarating high-school thriller, where straight-A students stage a heist that will undermine the U.S. university entrance system after they lose their own scholarships.

The Centerpiece Gala is the indie film “Birdshot.”

Ku Aquino and John Arcilla also in the cast

Ku Aquino and John Arcilla also in the cast

The Closing Gala is Jung Byung-gil’s “The Villainess,” an adrenaline-soaked action film about a ruthless female assassin trained in China who starts a new life with South Korea’s Intelligence Agency.

New to NYAFF in 2017 is the Main Competition section, featuring seven diverse works by first or second-time directors that are all having their North American premieres at the festival. Competing are “Bad Genius” (Thailand), “Birdshot” (Philippines), “A Double Life” (Japan), “The Gangster’s Daughter” (Taiwan), “Kfc” (Vietnam), “Jane” (South Korea), and “With Prisoners” (Hong Kong). The winners will be revealed on the festival’s final night at Film Society of Lincoln Center on July 13.

“We were seeking a range of original films from young, first-time directors, films that represent the diversity of filmmaking from Asia, stories that say something both very local and specific to their countries of origin and something very universal: we hope we achieved at least some of this with our inaugural competition selection, which includes films from seven countries/cities in the region in a broad variety of genres,” NYAFF executive director Samuel Jamier said. “It’s important for us to champion new filmmaking from Asia, and the diversity of film made there at a time when other festivals in North America seem to be reducing the size of their Asian lineups.”

“Birdshot,” which stars Mary Joy Apostol and Arnold Reyes, won Best Asian Future Film award at the recent 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. Also in the cast are Ku Aquino and John Arcilla.

The mystery thriller is produced by Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and PelikulaRED and supported by Doha Film Institute, CJ Entertainment, Asian Project Market, and Produire au Sud.

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