SFIAAFF 30 Reviews: Marlon Rivera’s The Woman in the Septic Tank

March 7, 2012

Marlon Rivera’s feature debut The
Woman in the Septic Tank
provides wry commentary on the indie film scene
that SFIAAFF is steeped in. Young filmmakers Bingbong and Rainier are
plotting a surefire indie hit, set in the slums of Manila and featuring an
impoverished mother who sells her child to a pedophile. They chew over the
precise details to get the authentic look of this gritty project, their eyes set
firmly on the film festival prizes.

It’s an interesting premise, but nearly every scene goes on
too long, perhaps with the exception of a wonderfully absurd sequence of the
slum-dwellers singing and dancing à la Rodgers and Hammerstein -- and why has no
one thought of that before? Such a natural fit for a culture where singing and
dancing is so ubiquitous.

The film perks up with the appearance of Filipina star
Eugene Domingo as a diva actress who the filmmakers hope will play the lead in
their film (she has made a few notes on the script, of course, “just
suggestions”). Her hilarious arrival in the film unfortunately underlines the
disparity in acting talent, but the moments she’s on the screen, sending up mercurial
actresses looking to work with young directors to boost their indie credibility,
is where the movie really sings.


The Woman in the Septic Tank screens on March 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm at SF Film Society Cinema/New People.


Lisa Wong Macabasco

Former Editor in chief

Lisa Wong Macabasco joined Hyphen in 2006; she has worked as the magazine's features editor, managing editor, and editor in chief. She has written for Mother Jones, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, AsianWeek, Audrey, Filipinas and ColorLines’ RaceWire. She graduated from U.C. Berkeley and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and co-founded the National Asian American Student Conference. She was formerly an editor at AsianWeek newspaper and an editor in the marketing department of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.