“In the Philippines, you have very low-budget films, so most films tend to be a certain style. Either you see cinema verité or very contemplative [filmmaking],” Birdshot director Mikhail Red told Deadline’s Dominic Patten after an Awardsline screening of the film, reflecting on the Filipino Oscar entry this year, which is more stylistically heightened by comparison.

“Making Birdshot, I wanted a Western set in the Philippines, so it had to have this more dynamic approach. I got actors who were used to that style, actors who’ve done international films who are used to repeating the same scenes over and over from different angles.”

A mystery-thriller in which Mary Joy Apostol makes her screen debut, Birdshot centers on Maya, a Filipina farm girl who wanders into the forest of a Philippine reservation, mistakenly shooting and killing an endangered Philippine Eagle, after which she is hunted down by the authorities.

While a certain lawlessness has been broadcast in news out of the Philippines in recent years, in making Birdshot, Red hoped to spotlight a different, more beautiful side to his home country which isn’t always appreciated to the extent that it should be. “[People] are used to seeing the grit and the poverty of our country—of course, it’s a third-world country, a developing nation. What I wanted to show with Birdshot is that there’s beauty in the Philippines,” Red explained. “We have a very beautiful country, and that adds to the tragedy, that beyond this beautiful landscape, there’s growing turmoil.”

“It’s almost like a Garden of Eden,” the director continued, “and there’s sin all over.”

To view more of Deadline’s conversation with the Birdshot director, click above.