Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank: A witty indie film about indie filmmaking

Rare are those times that I get to watch a fun and witty Pinoy film like Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. It may be short, running at around an hour and a half in total, but it's got loads of awesome moments.

The movie is basically a critique on indie filmmaking and its romanticizing of poverty in the Philippines. It opens with a scene where indie film director Rainier (Kean Cipriano) and producer Bingbong (JM de Guzman) brainstorm and review scenes for their indie film "Walang Wala" while production assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) imagines each sequence as they are narrated by the two. With the hopes of bagging awards for the indie movie they will make, Rainier and Bingbong tap in Eugene Domingo to portray their film's central character, a mother from the slums who will sell her child to pedophilia.

The next scenes are pretty much insinuations of how indie filmmaking is behind the camera: the dream (or illusion) and promise of recognition in and outside the country, the negotiations between production and actor, and the real yet cruel side of poverty that these films don't really show its audience. The film presents it in the form of satire, the truth disguised as a chewable tablet. I consider it somewhat of an eye-opener to those who think that filmmaking is a glamorous job -- while it does reap you awards, the process of creating it from start to finish is where the adventure lies. And this film shows it, "as is where is" -style.

Eugene Domingo simply shines in this movie. It's impossible for me to think of another actress who can do what she did here (well, Cherry Pie Picache does come close to a second. Mercedes Cabral probably would, too, though I have to see her first in Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me). Kean and JM were fun to watch as the young director and producer, respectively, deluded by their ambition to be at par with -- and even surpass -- other indie filmmakers who have won accolades here and abroad.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, for me, raises the bar in storytelling. Writer Chris Martinez and Director Marlon Rivera really did moviegoers a huge favor by releasing this movie full of wit and charm. They, as well as Ms. Domingo and everyone behind it, truly deserve their awards. Watch the film and you'll see why.

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