If you have been traumatized by our local movies, sneering and rolling your eyes at fan-based mainstream rom-coms and comedies, and then scoffing at indie films of gay and poverty porn, which you feel sums up the entire Philippine film industry, then you should watch Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.
Representing the country at the 84th Oscar Awards to vie for a nomination spot in the Best Foreign Film category (bumping off Thelma and Rosario), Ang Babae sa Septic Tank has managed to win the hearts of various Pinoy moviegoers: the mainstream-loving ones, the indie fans, the film snobs, and the common moviegoers, uniting them in one glorious laughfest.
The film, which gained viral stardom, is about two young and ambitious indie filmmakers (JM de Guzman and Kean Cipriano) and their PA (the non-speaking role of Cai Cortez) as they set out to create what they deem to be a brilliant indie film, envisioning international film festivals and awards-- specifically the Oscars. Their movie plot already exists, and it's not something new in the indie world: a mother of seven in a destitute slum area who, in desperate measures, sells her child to a pedophile. On their way to an appointment with a popular mainstream actress, Eugene Domingo (as herself), who has shown an interest in the lead role, the filmmakers tinker with ideas and discuss various treatments to the film: from a nitty gritty neo-realist treatment to a musical, to a docu-drama-- and, humorously, we see the different treatments through the imagination of the non-speaking but enthusiastic PA. And when Eugene Domingo in the movie suggested her own ideas into the indie film, it was a riotous experience.
|Cai Cortez, Kean Cipriano, and JM de Guzman|
The Filipino audience will split into two groups when watching the movie, laughing from two different perspectives: those who work in the creative industry (especially filmmakers and aspiring ones) will be able to relate with the creative process of the lead characters, and then there's the fans of Eugene Domingo, who will laugh at her comedic performance. My sister and I, who watched the special screening last night, and who have in the past teamed up in small amateur film projects down to the movie poster, roared with laughter as we saw ourselves in the duo.
|Eugene Domingo in the envisioned role of a destitute mother|
I am worried about how the international audience would view the film, with 50% of its humor, I believe, can only be understood by Filipinos. Still, it's a strong international contender because what the foreign audience might glean from this parody of a movie is an insight into our cinematic trend, its hilarious and brilliant execution of various film treatments, and the funny desperation of getting international recognition-- specifically the Oscars. No, they don't want the Cannes. They want the Oscars!
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, which has garnered major awards at this year's Cinemalaya (Best Screenplay, Audience Choice Award, Best Performance of an Actress [for Eugene Domingo], Best Director, and Best Film) and received invitations to international film fests: Pusan, Tokyo, Vancouver, Hawaii, and Udine, is a testament that the country can produce quality indie films and intelligent screenplays. And who knows? The goosebumps-inducing idea that we will finally, FINALLY see our film nominated in the Oscars might just come true...sooner than we think.
A must-see for all.