Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Everything they had worked for and talked about lead to this moment. Aspiring film makers Rainier (Kean Cipriano), Bing Bong (JM De Guzman) and Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) are met by a guard in shades and barong. They enter a white ultra modern mansion where even the pool boy and flower arrangers are hunky and English speaking. In the living room they are greeted with life size portraits of Eugene Domingo, photographed by no less than Raymund Isaac himself. The portraits are tasteful and glamorous. They are seated in the office where dozens of acting awards are strewn across a table a Balanghai from Cinemalaya and Urian awards among them. Above the table is a black and white close up of ‘Uge’ with wind blown hair staring across them.
Finally, she goes down the stairs with a slimmer figure in a black flowing dress. Producer Bing bong introduces himself when she interrupts, “Wag niyo nako i ‘po’ konti lang agwat ng edad natin.” She also shows off her smaller waist, “Kelangan ko pa ba magpapayat? Ok na ba ‘to direk?” They eventually get to the big question and she says, “Accepting the role? Papatay ako para makuha itong role. Script lahat ito. (Points to pile on desk). Basura! Di pinag isipan! Your script is brilliant. Dito nako sa ‘Walang Wala’! (title of film)”
“Babae sa Septic Tank” is directed by Marlon Rivera and written by Chris Martinez. The film is part of the New Breed category for the Cinemalaya film fest which will run from July 16-24 at the CCP and Greenbelt3 cinemas. The Awards night will be on July 24th, also at the CCP Main Theater.
Eugene Domingo is riding high on the recent box office success of ‘My Valentines.’ Uge has also conquered the boob tube with shows like “Inday Wanda” and “Lucky Numbers.” “Simulan Na, Kimmy Dora 3” is already in pre production stage. Both the sequel and original “Kimmy Dora” was produced by Piolo Pascual. In “Babae sa Septic Tank”, she plays herself. Three struggling film makers are played by JM De Guzman, Cai Cortez and Kean Cipriano, vocalist of band Calla Lily. Kean can be seen in the show ‘Iskul Bukol’ also from TV5. Mercedes Cabral and Cherri Pie Picache also have cameo roles.
The film is a laugh out loud parody of Phil. Independent cinema. And asks the all important question, why make a film at all? It shows how a simple storyline can be visualized in totally different ways by varying people for their own reasons or backgrounds. The story line of ‘Walang Wala’ is about a mother in the slums prostituting her own child to a pedophile. There’s the gritty realistic documentary approach which Bing bong favors. Bing Bong is the pragmatic producer who tries to marry Rainier’s vision to what he thinks will be a film fest winner. Jocelyn although quiet sees the film as a musical. Kean Cipriano and JM Guzman more than hold their own in comedic skills. Their lively debates on what makes a ‘good’ film is certainly funny. The movie plays out the different styles and even alternative casting choices: Cherrie Pie Picache and Mercedes Cabral.
Eugene however shows her vast range especially when the musical portion is envisioned. Screenwriter Chris Martinez shared that their friendship has gone back 20 years since their days in U.P. Dulaan (theater group). And no one else would be better at writing for Eugene as herself, which she acknowledges. It also interjects this current state of her career. In the scene where she meets with the film makers she says that their timing is perfect as she has done nothing but mainstream films for 2 years.
The ‘mainstream’ fed Eugene tries to dominate the directorial treatment of the film. In her version there’s a generous helping of branding from products like Payless, Safeguard and her official Skin Care specialist Cathy Valencia. Audiences couldn’t help but laugh so hard at the obvious contrast to the indie spirit of the film entitled ‘Walang Wala’ that was originally proposed. The comedy comes at you so fast and so hard that the absurdity of the reality also hits hard. Make sure to watch the credits as they are able to get back at the demanding diva in a hilarious way.
Chris Martinez in an interview said, “It’s not a parody of any particular film but rather a ‘style.’ Indie has become a style when it shouldn’t be. Indie is supposed to be how you finance your film. Ang nangyari the past few years, pag sinabi mong indie it becomes a genre.” Part of it is the reliance on poverty as the generic subject for local independent films. With the story and dialogue it dissects the questions of why and how people make films. Motives of fame, recognition, awards even commercialism sometimes get in the way of a ‘real’ story.