The Woman in the Septic Tank

The Woman in the Septic Tank is a cheeky backstage farce of the poverty-film genre frequently exported by developing nations—here, the Philippines. Directed by Marlon Rivera, the film begins in the stench of the Manila slums, as a mother of seven (TV star Eugene Domingo) sets out to sell one of her children to a pedophile, and an offscreen voice gives stage direction. The voice, we discover, belongs to director Rainier, who is visualizing this, his upcoming feature, with his producer Bingbong in an upscale Manila coffee shop, where they strategize how best to cater to the misery market. "The festival programmers aren't going to have it any other way," insists savvy Bingbong as they refashion the material, visualized as a docu-drama ("The film will blur the lines between reality and fiction"), a musical, and finally according to the soap-operatic ideas of Domingo, who plays herself taking a meeting with the filmmakers. The film's dry punchline is that each revision isn't given as a gradual compromising of artistic integrity, but only as another version of show business as usual. (Repeats 8:30 p.m. Thurs. at Harvard Exit.) NICK PINKERTON

Tue., June 5, 4 p.m., 2012

 
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