VIFF 2011 – Woman in a Septic Tank Review

Vancouver, Canada – The first feature film by director Marlon Rivera, Woman in a Septic Tank (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank), is a welcome change to the usual ‘poverty porn’ churned out by Filipino filmmakers.

A satire on Filipino filmmaking, the story follows two Indie filmmakers as they plan out their latest project ‘Walang Wala’ or ‘With Nothing’,  about a mother, Mila (Eugene Domingo) who is forced to sell her child to survive.

The director’s clever formula focuses on a few of Mila’s sequences retold in many different ways,  as it seems everyone has their own idea on how the part should be played. Rivera does a wonderful job of going back and forth between the ‘Walang Wala’ film and the filmmakers’ story.

There were a few lengthy scenes that could have been shortened and improved, specifically those used in the initial sequences. How many times does the viewer need to watch Mila scoop soup into bowls?

Other than that, the characters were relatable, the dialogue was witty and humourous and the actors’ performances were lively and enthusiastic . Along with a plethora of jokes about prize-winning Pinoy movies, not to mention the ‘septic tank’ scene, Woman in a Septic Tank is a brilliant, entertaining film that is sure to appeal to both a Filipino and Non-Filipino audience alike.

Filipino Indie cinema has come a long way with this offering from Marlon Rivera.  The film sends out a message to other Filipino filmmakers that there is no need to purely focus or limit one’s self to poverty related stories just because you want to tell a story about the Philippines.There are so many more stories just waiting to be told.

Judging on how this film is being received, the Filipino audience is ready for them. Hopefully, other Indie directors will take note and follow suit.

Woman in a Septic Tank had it’s first international premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival(VIFF) on Monday, Oct 3. The film has also been selected as the Philippines contender for the foreign-language Oscar.

Check out the full trailer below:

Not Your Typical Sunday…

..or a Typical Taiwanese Film.

VIFF 2010: Pinoy Sunday

Written and directed by Ho Wing Ding, I had the opportunity to see “Pinoy Sunday” at the Vancouver International Film Festival last week.

The film tells the story of two Filipino workers living in multicultural modern Taipei, Taiwan, a country where Filipinos represent the largest ethnic minority. One Sunday while sitting, eating mango ice and talking about their lives, they stumble upon a couch.

The characters fantasize about being able to relax on the couch after a hard day’s work, Taiwan Beer in hand, although Dado prefers that it be a San Miguel, the traditional beer of the Philippines.

This beautiful red leather sofa represents more than just a comfortable place to lie and relax on. To them, it’s a chance to feel somewhat  ‘at home’ in this foreign land. This couch would also be the one possession they owned in Taiwan, unlike their living quarters which belonged to their employers.

They decide that they must bring the couch back with them. With little money to pay for a truck, and with no other means of transport, they make the ridiculous decision to carry it back and their Sunday adventure begins.

Taipei 101, a common sight in their daily commute, helped give them a sense a direction on their way.

Although this was a film set in Taiwan, and by a Taiwanese director, he did a great job with the humor in the film. Filipinos and non-filipinos alike will be entertained by the offbeat pair made up of a single, playboy, Manuel and the more *responsible* family man, Dado, who stays in touch with his family but also has another relationship in Taiwan.

The serious and darker themes of the film, Overseas Filipino Workers, and the struggle of separation from their families and country are highlighted as well, but the mood of the film remained positive.

One of the examples of the relationship between migrant workers and the Taiwanese can be seen in the film when they accidentally knock a man off his scooter with the couch. The man yells at them the Filipinos that they should speak Chinese!

I very much enjoyed this film. The director did a great job with the film’s humor, while still giving the audience a look at the lives of Overseas Workers in Taiwan. We were all left, rooting for the pair, hoping they’d succeed on this comical task to find their way home.

With over 380 films from over 80 different countries, he Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) opened 2 weeks ago and runs until Oct 15th. This was definitely a film that was worth checking out.

For more info on great indie films, that differ from the mainstream norm, check out the website.

More Info on Pinoy Sunday can be found on their website.