Jerusalem Film Festival 2012: The Woman in the Septic Tank
Written by: Ayelet Dekel
The Woman in the Septic Tank (Phillipines 2011, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank – Tagalog) is a hilarious paen to film, a joy ride of the imagination that exposes the posing, BS and compromises of the movie biz, giving a playful poke to cultural preconceptions along the way.
Written and produced by Chris Martinez and directed by Marlon N. Rivera, the film represented the Phillipines at the Oscars, and is currently showing at the Jerusalem Film Festival, in the New Directors category. There is one more screening scheduled for July 11th – catch it while you can!
Jocelyn, Rainier, and Bingbong (Cai Cortez, Kean Cipriano and JM de Guzman) set out to make a movie, equipped with dreams of grandeur, new media savvy, youthful energy and an upcoming meeting with famous actress Eugene Domingo. Hoping to crack the code of film festival success, they run through a variety of sure-to-win scenarios, taking the audience along on this journey through a theme (the movie that will make us rich/famous) and its variations.
There is a perverse pleasure in seeing this film, with its constant refrain of “festivals like it,” in the context of a film festival. As the three spin their story of abject poverty in the Philippines, planning exterior shots that will establish an atmosphere of “squalor,” one cannot help but note that one is a member of that target audience, the “festival audience” that these ambitious young people are seeking to satisfy.
Rivera and Martinez have created a fun satire that not only mocks the film world (Eugene Domingo is terrific as ‘herself’) but raises issues of the ways in which cultures and countries are portrayed in the media, the expectations and preconceptions, the monolithic, single-issue view that one sees from a distance, as contrasted with the diverse colors, contexts and contradictions of reality.
If seeing the amiable, affluent threesome focus on the best way to portray poverty in the Philippines, while sipping their tall iced non-fat lattes and worrying about keeping their high-end digital accessories charged reminds one of similar scenes closer to home, don’t be too distressed, after all, it’s only a movie.
Directed by Marlon Rivera; written by Chris Martinez; director of photography, Larry Manda; edited by Ike Veneracion; music by Vincent de Jesus; production design by Reji Regalado; produced by Mr. Martinez, Mr. Rivera, Josabeth Alonso and John Victor Tence.