The Woman in the Septic Tank. 2011. Philippines. Directed by Marlon Rivera. With Eugene Domingo, Kean Cipriano, JM de Guzman, Cai Cortez. In Filipino and English; English subtitles. 87 min.
A three-person indie filmmaking team—all middle-class, English-speaking, young, and ambitious—has grand plans to make it big in the film world. Philippine films have been well-received at glamorous international film festivals, and they have just the right story to satisfy the appetite of the global film elites: a desperate mother of seven kids in an urban slum who has no choice but to pimp out one of her kids—initially a girl, but later switched to a boy for sure-win dramatic effect. On top of exploiting the “poverty porn” formula, the filmmakers experiment with every possible stylistic cliché, from heart-wrenching docudrama to campy musical, to maximize the emotional response. This witty comedy, a box office success at home, proves that Filipino filmmakers are not afraid to poke fun at themselves and their colleagues.