Director Rainier, Producer Bingbong and Production Assistant Jocelyn are well-to-do, well-educated film school graduates who are dead set on making an Oscar worthy film. Like most filmmakers they know, they have devised a screenplay that will show the real essence of our culture: poverty. In the course of one day, they brainstorm and exhaust all possible treatment of their project: the story of Mila (Eugene Domingo), a mother from the slums, who out of desperation to survive, has sold her child to a pedophile. As they discuss the possible executions of the story, the movie-within-a-movie gets reborn in Jocelyn's imagination several times. As a gritty no frills neo-realist film, as a glossy musical, as an over-the-top melodrama and as a docu drama using non-actors.
Filipino Film Night: The Woman in the Septic Tank
“Domingo is terrific at sending up her star status when she agrees to play Mila for reasons just as cynical as those of Bingbong and Rainier. Her extended interpretation of the screenplay and inane suggestions for “improvements,” spoken at a million miles per hour, are a real knockout. Cipriano and de Guzman are spot-on as the guys with one eye on the slums and the other on travel and trophies.”
“A cheeky parody of Filipino cinema.”
“The Woman in the Septic Tank is a lighthearted critique on the fetishized notion of the “non-actor,” the ethics (or lack thereof) of the “docudrama,” and the packaging of national despair for exportation—from both the side of producers, who play up to international expectations (and projections) about extreme poverty as always foreign, and the colonial powers themselves, whose avid reception of the work can perversely mask what’s actually at stake. ”