Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (2011) debuts at the Oscars
If “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” (The Woman in the Septic Tank) were a person, he (or she) would be someone with multiple personality disorder. The film starts off humbly, like a budding filmmaker’s first steps carried only by a dream — to produce a film worthy of the Oscars. Like a babe it comes out into the world raw, fresh. It stumbles through its first steps without voice nor malice.
Written by Chris Martinez and directed by Marlon Rivera, “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” is a film about film-making. It takes us through the challenges and struggles that young director Rainier (Kean Cipriano) and producer Bingbong (JM de Guzman) are faced with in creating their masterpiece, a film entitled “Walang Wala”. The duo is supported by their silent assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) and by their star, Eugene Domingo (playing as herself).
A film with multiple personalities
You watch as the film grows, surprising you with every step. It starts to develop, taking on different personalities. There is the director’s dream – raw and simple, silent but deadly. At one point, it learns to sing and dance – a musical reminiscent of “The Sound of Music”. Then there’s the commercialized version – clean, shiny, and full of blatant ads.
The film is loaded with metaphors. As in real life, production assistants and technicians are silent, unrecognized — a wall of names shown at the end. How will casting affect the story and its production? Does commercialization add value, or do they merely distract? What separates good acting from bad?
These are just some examples. There are so many layers and facets to the film, some more obvious than others. I leave it to you to discover and find out — there is indescribable joy in discovery.
Representation of the Philippines as a third world country
Perhaps one metaphor worth highlighting is the extreme financial disparity in the Philippines. The film does a good job of showcasing and contrasting the poor with the middle class and the extremely wealthy. As a movie vying for an international audience, I believe that “The Woman in the Septic Tank” paints a fair view of a country that, while being third world, is not always about slums and piles of garbage.
Which brings us back to the very beginning. I have not had the privilege of being a parent, but I would imagine that the best memories of a babe are the first ones. In the end the film is a full blend of experiences – like the colors of the rainbow or the ingredients of halo-halo (Filipino shaved ice). All of which makes for a truly Pinoy movie worthy of the Oscars.
Does “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” deserve an Academy Award? Well, does Manny Pacquiao deserve to win against bigger, tougher opponents? Win or lose its all about the heart — in this case, the Filipino heart. And this film is full of it.
Cinemalaya 2011 awards
“Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” received five (5) awards at the 2011 Cinemalaya including Best Film:
- Best Screenplay (Chris Martinez)
- Best Direction (Marlon Rivera)
- Best Actress (Eugene Domingo)
- Best Film (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank)
- Audience Choice (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank)
According to the producers, it is the highest grossing independent film in the Philippines at 38.5 million pesos.
Stiff competition for the 84th Academy Awards
“Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” will represent the Philippines and compete against submissions from 62 other countries for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
- Albania, “Amnesty,” Bujar Alimani, director;
- Argentina, “Aballay,” Fernando Spiner, director;
- Austria, “Breathing,” Karl Markovics, director;
- Belgium, “Bullhead,” Michael R. Roskam, director;
- Bosnia and Herzegovina,”Belvedere,” Ahmed Imamovic, director;
- Brazil, “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within,” José Padilha, director;
- Bulgaria, “Tilt,” Viktor Chouchkov, Jr., director;
- Canada, “Monsieur Lazhar,” Philippe Falardeau, director;
- Chile, “Violeta Went to Heaven,” Andrés Wood, director;
- China, “The Flowers of War,” Zhang Yimou, director;
- Colombia, “The Colors of the Mountain,” Carlos César Arbeláez, director;
- Croatia, “72 Days,” Danilo Serbedzija, director;
- Cuba, “Havanastation,” Ian Padrón, director;
- Czech Republic,”Alois Nebel,” Tomás Lunák, director;
- Denmark, “Superclásico,” Ole Christian Madsen, director;
- Dominican Republic,”Love Child,” Leticia Tonos, director;
- Egypt, “Lust,” Khaled el Hagar, director;
- Estonia, “Letters to Angel,” Sulev Keedus, director;
- Finland, “Le Havre,” Aki Kaurismäki, director;
- France, “Declaration of War,” Valérie Donzelli, director;
- Georgia, “Chantrapas,” Otar Iosseliani, director;
- Germany, “Pina,” Wim Wenders, director;
- Greece, “Attenberg,” Athina Rachel Tsangari, director;
- Hong Kong,”A Simple Life,” Ann Hui, director;
- Hungary, “The Turin Horse,” Béela Tarr, director;
- Iceland, “Volcano,” Rúnar Rúnarsson, director;
- India, “Abu, Son of Adam,” Salim Ahamed, director;
- Indonesia, “Under the Protection of Ka'Bah,” Hanny R. Saputra, director;
- Iran, “A Separation,” Asghar Farhadi, director;
- Ireland, “As If I Am Not There,” Juanita Wilson, director;
- Israel, “Footnote,” Joseph Cedar, director;
- Italy, “Terraferma,” Emanuele Crialese, director;
- Japan, “Postcard,” Kaneto Shindo, director;
- Kazakhstan, “Returning to the ‘A,’” Egor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, director;
- Lebanon, “Where Do We Go Now?” Nadine Labaki, director;
- Lithuania, “Back to Your Arms,” Kristijonas Vildziunas, director;
- Macedonia, “Punk Is Not Dead,” Vladimir Blazevski, director;
- Mexico, “Miss Bala,” Gerardo Naranjo, director;
- Morocco, “Omar Killed Me,” Roschdy Zem, director;
- Netherlands, “Sonny Boy,” Maria Peters, director;
- New Zealand,”The Orator,” Tusi Tamasese, director;
- Norway, “Happy, Happy,” Anne Sewitsky, director;
- Peru, “October,” Diego Vega and Daniel Vega, directors;
- Philippines, “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” (The Woman in the Septic Tank), Marlon Rivera
- Poland, “In Darkness,” Agnieszka Holland, director;
- Portugal, “José and Pilar,” Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, director;
- Romania, “Morgen,” Marian Crisan, director;
- Russia, “Burnt by the Sun 2: The Citadel,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director;
- Serbia, “Montevideo: Taste of a Dream,” Dragan Bjelogrlić, director;
- Singapore, “Tatsumi,” Eric Khoo, director;
- Slovak Republic,”Gypsy,” Martin Sulík, director;
- South Africa,”Beauty,” Oliver Hermanus, director;
- South Korea,”The Front Line,” Jang Hun, director;
- Spain, “Black Bread,” Agusti Villaronga, director;
- Sweden, “Beyond,” Pernilla August, director;
- Switzerland, “Summer Games,” Rolando Colla, director;
- Taiwan, “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” Wei Te-sheng, director;
- Thailand, “Kon Khon,” Sarunyu Wongkrachang, director;
- Turkey, “Once upon a Time in Anatolia,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;
- United Kingdom,”Patagonia,” Marc Evans, director;
- Uruguay, “The Silent House,” Gustavo Hernández, director;
- Venezuela, “Rumble of the Stones,” Alejandro Bellame Palacios, director;
- Vietnam, “The Prince and the Pagoda Boy,” Luu Trong Ninh, director.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank) 2011 photos
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For more information, visit the following:
- Ang Babae sa Septic Tank official website
- Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Facebook page
- Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Cinemalaya entry