A young Japanese woman in New York is the heroine of a beautifully made story of cultural displacement and innocence betrayed.

The heroine of Maki is a naive-looking Japanese woman who seems out of place in the blue-tinged light of the New York gentleman’s club where she works. Her discomfort goes to the heart of writer and director Naghmeh Shirkhan’s absorbing, precisely shaped second feature.

Maki, known as Eva at the club, is an innocent among wolves, and a stranger in a land whose foreignness goes beyond language. Through her, Shirkhan deftly creates a story of cultural displacement and romantic and sexual exploitation. Visually lovely, naturally acted and shot in only 18 days, this effective little drama shows how much a confident filmmaker with a terrific cast and crew can do on a shoestring.

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