Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Paiso and Vish take a playful approach to the material" | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

There’s no doubting the ambition of this Cannes 2024 short from the Directors’ Factory written and directed by Filipino Maria Estela Paiso and India’s Ashok Vish. They blend a realism of everyday life in the Philippines with a mythical tale of the Tagalog bird god Tigmamanukan - who would grant certain flightless birds wings.

We meet the god (Bob Jbeili) looking mostly human, with just his head that of a bird. He’s chatting with fellow bird deities about a woman named Ivy (Pokwang, Ode To Nothing) who they are aiming to help. The head is rendered using CGI - which does betray the budget somewhat, but as the film runs along there are some nice animated flourishes used with it, including a puff of feathers as a wallet is opened.

It’s easy to see why the bird god might have a vested interest in Ivy’s welfare beyond the woman herself, since her unpleasant husband (Arsenio Dagwayan) wastes his money on cockfighting - something that also does not bode well for the rooster.

Paiso and Vish take a playful approach to the material, steering clear of the violence of the cockfight itself in favour of focusing on Ivy’s experience. Established star Pokwang has fun with the role although the relationships between the various characters are under-explored in comparison to the visuals. Paiso and Vish’s independent future projects both appear to involve elements of the fantastical - one time travel, the other a deity myth - which means this should be a good stepping stone for them.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2024
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A mythical bird helps a woman break free.

Director: Maria Estela Paiso, Ashok Vish

Writer: Maria Estela Paiso, Ashok Vish

Starring: Sylvia Sanchez, Angel Aquino

Year: 2024

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: Philippines, France


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