Program Detail

Woman in the Septic Tank

Marlon Rivera / Philippines / 2011 / 90 min / Tagalog with English subtitles / Color / 35mm


Taking its cues from films-on-filmmaking satires like The Player and Living in Oblivion, Marlon N. Rivera’s feature debut The Woman in the Septic Tank is both a send-up of what it takes for indie filmmakers from the developing world to create “the next big thing,” and also a questioning commentary on what audiences need from their “indie festival hits.” Ostensibly a hard-hitting documentary, the film tracks three fresh-faced hipster filmmakers as they struggle to make—in their eyes—an epic-but-gritty film set in thesquatter slums of Manila. Snug in their air-conditioned, wi-fi enabled café, producer Bingbong (JM de Guzman), director Rainier (Kean Cipriano) and production assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez) take great pains to get the story, the shots, the actors, and the location just right (“It has to be as real as possible… besides, the festival programmers are not going to have it any other way”). The three hit snags along the road, though, from meeting an already successful colleague just back from the Venice Film Festival to kowtowing to the film’s megastar, not to mention the actual task of location scouting in real slums, among real squatters.

Fast-paced and funny, what sets this film apart from similar parodies is not only its ability to poke fun at industry smugness or artistic pretentions, but director Rivera’s keen eye on what has made Philippine Cinema successful in the international realm. It is a commentary on authenticity, art, and success—and what truths get left behind along the way. “Witty, bitchy and cine-literate,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter, “Woman is among the most outstanding directorial debuts in Philippine cinema this year.”

-Miel Alegre

Co-presenter (3/11): Bindlestiff Studio


  • Director: Marlon Rivera
  • Executive Producer: Josabeth Alonso, John Victor Tence, Marlon Rivera
  • Cinematographer: Larry Manda
  • Editor: Ike Veneracion
  • Cast: Eugene Domingo, Kean Cipriano, JM De Guzman, Cai Cortez


March 11, 2012 2:30 pm
SF Film Society Cinema at New People
Tickets not currently on sale


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