Guest post by Ben Traub
Bio: visual/audio artist that plays in bands, makes pictures, & loves film. movies are ok too. appreciates the absurd, enjoys romance, digs stuff.
Hand held video of ultimate squalor. Heartbreaking scenes of day to day poverty. No narration other than simple cinematography and direction. Rough stuff.
A mother bathing her daughter in a courtyard to prepare her for an ultimate sacrifice into a life of … it’s the opening of a movie inside this movie. And the whole time you have to question if you would actually sit and watch it…while watching what it would take to make it.
The film follows the young writer/director Rainier (Kean Cipriano), his producer BingBong (JM de Guzman) and their PA Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) in dreamy tow. They have appointments set, people to see, coffee to drink, iPad chargers to remember for next time. This film is the irony of the “creative process”: Watching others create while mocking the world of indie cinema (which it totally deserves), keeping its thumb on the absolutely bi-polar world of casting, script revision, location scouting, and ultimately, more manipulation.
Eugene Domingo, playing herself playing herself (trust me) gives an insanely good performance as a super famous actor looking to break the mold a little bit, do something exciting, be in an Indie film, where the real Art is made. She takes the role as the Woman in the Septic Tank, kind of a joke about having to title a film inside this film - also allegory for being so deep in the crap that can be making Art. If by the end of the film you can still remember her touching, torturous acting at the beginning and know that the final shot is exactly where she wants to be, the Woman in the Septic Tank and the filmmakers have done their job.
You, the film viewer, are always being manipulated into the seeing only the vision of the filmmaker. THE WOMAN IN THE SEPTIC TANK takes this manipulation, runs away with, then runs right back and shoves it in your face while laughing. Oh, this movie isn’t laughing at you. Not unless you’re guilty of buying into the idea that film is a true representation of reality. It’s not. A movie is a movie. Film may capture something real, something scary and sad or funny and amazing, but you only see what the creators have allowed you to see, what’s in the frame, not what gets edited out. Not like life.
The comedy is pretty dark and the dialogue fast, spoken in Filipino and English so keep your eyes and ears open. The rhythm of the film takes some getting used to as what are some sneaky comedy bits can quickly dissolve into a musical daydream, a melodramatic soap opera, or just the rapid fire destruction of an Artist’s story. Manipulation.
I can imagine Hollywood films about poverty being fleshed out over $10 cups of what passes as coffee these days. How? Because anyone that means business drinks coffee with extra caramel drizzle through a straw like a child. I’ve seen it in a movie. It must be real.
The Woman in the Septic Tank
Marlon Rivera 2011
Categories: World Cinema Features
View the trailer:
The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!