16th New York Asian Film Festival Showcases 3 Filipino Films
The New York Asian Film Festival is an annual event that showcases the best of Asian cinema. Working under the operation of Subway Cinema, the festival features both contemporary and classic titles from across the continent. From the signature horror films of Japan and Thailand to the coming-of-age dramas of the Philippines and South Korea, the festival promises a different genre for every cinephile out there.
According to the website of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the 16th edition will feature “a continuation of the festival programmers’ efforts to champion films from Southeast Asia and the Philippines in particular.” Three Filipino films proudly made the cut this year, namely Mikhail Red’s Birdshot (2016), Jet Leyco’s Town in a Lake (Matangtubig, 2015)” and Avid Liongoren’s Saving Sally (2016).
3 Pinoy Films Showcased at the 16th New York Asian Film Festival
For the official trailer of this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, a Filipino film is put front and center. The film in question is Birdshot, the second big screen project of 25-year-old Filipino filmmaker Mikhail Red. Red famously burst into the scene with his drama film Rekorder, which received a warm response during its premiere at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival.
Birdshot was named the centerpiece gala of the festival this year. It centers around a young girl named Maya, who accidentally shoots a protected Philippine Eagle and finds herself at the center of a thrilling chase.
Two other Filipino films, Saving Sally and Town in a Lake, are also part of the roster. Saving Sally is the passion project by University of the Philippines alumni Charlene Sawit and Avid Liongoren. It initially made its premiere during the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, where it grossed over ₱27 million during its entire theatrical run.
Town in a Lake by director Jet Leyco is a thriller/drama that revolves around a small rural community that is placed under the media spotlight after a grisly murder. Leyco’s other well-known works include Ex Press (2011) and Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na (2013).
The film festival made its run from June 30 to July 13 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street) and from July 14 to 16 at SVA Theater.
Aside from Birdshot, six other Asian films were placed in the main competition section, including Bad Genius (Thailand), A Double Life (Japan), The Gangster’s Daughter (Taiwan), Kfc (Vietnam), Jane (South Korea), and With Prisoners (Hong Kong). Among the entries, Bad Genius emerged as the winner.
Yoshiyuki Kishi’s A Double Life garnered a special mention as well, while Le Binh Giang was given an honorable mention for Most Promising Director for his work in Vietnam’s Kfc. The three-person jury constituted of actress Jennifer Kim, VOD acquisitions executive George Schmaltz, and longtime festival attendee Kristina Winters.
Filipino cinema in the international stage
The 15th anniversary of the New York Asian Film Festival presented three award-winning Filipino films as well. Of the three films, Mario Cornejo’s Apocalypse Child (2015), Ralston Jover’s Hamog (Haze, 2015) and Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father (2015), it was Honor Thy Father that was given recognition. The Star Asia Award was given to main actor John Lloyd Cruz, and Teri Malvar took home the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award.
Matti previously made history by bringing the first Filipino entry to the film festival. Back in 2005, he wowed audiences with the superhero film Gagamboy. Flash forward to 2013, Matti submitted two other films, Rigodon and Vesuvius.
NYAFF has been singing praises for the Filipino cinema, stating in 2013 that “Pinoy films is a cinema on fire, formed from fever dreams, pure sensation, and outrage that provides brisk, intelligent entertainment.”
Despite not winning during this year’s NYAFF, the future of Filipino cinema in both the international and local scene certainly seems bright. The brilliance of our local filmmakers has truly transcended from generation to generation.16th New York Asian Film Festival Showcases 3 Filipino Films by Holly