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: