Ang Babae sa Septic Tank got me curious because it received several awards from the Cinemalaya Film Festival for the New Breed Full-Length Category -- Best Actress for Eugene Domingo, Best Screenplay for Chris Martinez and Best Director for Marlon Rivera (debut film), Best Picture, and Audience Choice Award. So I watched it.
The film was about these three (3) young filmmakers played by JM de Guzman, Kean Cipriano, and Cai Cortez working out their first indie film entitled “Walang Wala” (With Nothing). The filmmakers would like to showcase poverty in the Philippines, a common theme in indie films, because such topic was attention-getter in the international film festival scene. So they celebrate the squalor they see around them like having the perfect poverty-stricken shoot location. The poorer, the better; the dirtier, the more dramatic, thus, giving the material a higher potential to earn a spot in the international arena.
With this in mind, the filmmakers offered the lead role to a big star Eugene Domingo, who played her ‘exaggerated self’ in the film. The beginning of her appearance as the sought-after star generated lots of laughs from the audience, including myself. I learned a thing about the three (3) different kinds of acting in the book of Eugene Domingo: the animated 'elevator acting' for comedy; the high-adrenaline 'TV patrol acting' for heavy drama soap opera; and the almost effortless 'as-is-where-is acting' for indie films.
The film literally began and ended with shit, but its message was definitely no shit.
Eugene’s performance in the film was so compelling that you would not think anyone could deliver it as perfect as she did. She deserved the award. Actually, just the mention of the name Eugene Domingo and Chris Martinez was enough for me to believe that this film would really bring tears to my eyes because of belly-aching laughter. I said so because of my experience with Kimmy Dora and Here Comes the Bride. Their tandem never failed me so far.
Behind the funny lines and performances was highlighting the issue of poverty pornography. If you went out of the cinema and just remembered how funny Eugene and the whole film was, then you missed the whole point. The film literally began (remember the child moving his bowel?) and ended with shit (in the septic tank), but its message was definitely no shit.