Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank

August 4, 2011

Watching "Ang Babae sa Septic Tank" is a unique look inside the processes of movie-making which we as laymen are not usually privy. We were walked through a script in progress from the brainstorming, to the problems and eventual compromising involved in the areas of casting, production design and location by young director Rainier (Kean Cipriano), his producer Bingbong (JM de Guzman) and their generally silent production assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez). 

Their movie called "Walang Wala" dealt with a poor mother from the slums who was forced by dire circumstances to a despicably desperate way to earn money. It was very interesting to actually see this very serious "movie-within-the-movie," which was originally planned to have a quiet indie drama treatment, reinterpreted as a docu-drama, then into a musical and even into commercial melodrama. It was also amusing to see different actresses play the mother role of Mila as the filmmakers discussed their casting choices. 

Cipriano and de Guzman play their respective roles in a very straight- forward way, as you would expect new, young, idealistic and enthusiastic indie filmmakers were to behave in real life. You can really feel their frustrations as their dream project goes further and further away from their original vision. Warning to people sensitive to cuss words: they fly liberally here and not bleeped out. 

As their "star", Eugene Domingo again goes to town playing herself! When Ms. Eugene delivers those killer punchlines, you can see writer Chris Martinez's triumphant contentment as his words are delivered with over-the-top comic flair and perfect timing. That Best Actress award she received in the Cinemanila awards is fully deserved. That incredible last scene alone would have earned her the prize already.

It is no wonder that this film was the most popular entry in the recently concluded Cinemalaya Film Festival last month. No wonder also that it swept the major prizes in the New Breed (Full Length) Category, winning Best Picture, Best Director (Marlon Rivera), Best Screenplay (Chris Martinez), Best Actress (Eugene Domingo) and the Audience Choice Awards. It was so successful at the festival that Star Cinema picked it up for the wide theatrical distribution that it so richly deserves. 

OK it is still an indie film so you will expect the film quality to be not too polished. The camera in some scenes especially in the beginning were not too focused. The lighting for a lot of indoor scenes were insufficient. In any case, for its excellent writing and execution, this film is definitely another important trailblazer in the history of Philippine cinematic comedy.

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