Thy Womb – a movie we should not miss PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 29 December 2012 09:23

If there is a movie of the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) that we should watch, it is Thy Womb (Sa Iyong Sinapupunan) starring Philippine superstar Nora Aunor, Bembol Roco, Lovi Poe and directed by Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza. It is not only because it is shot in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi with spectacular and expensive special effects plus hundreds of extra local players, it is the beautiful and original well-crafted Filipino story that unfolds before our eyes that will wrench our hearts and make us ponder what are the most important things in our life.

The film depicts the life of Badjao midwife coping with the irony of her own infertility amid the deprivations of her gypsy community. It is a saga of island life stuck between the devil of passion and the deep blue sea of tradition. The awesome cinematography shots offers sceneries so quiet and lovely even as they evoke wonderment on how life is for people who live on those native houses built on stilts, with seawater flowing freely underneath.

The Movie Plot: Shaleha Sarail (Nora Aunor) hails from a seaborne village in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi. The province is a seaweed-producing spot in the southern most part of the Philippines down to the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelagos. Aging and still smarting from three miscarriages in the past, Shaleha agonizes over her failure to bear a child. Though an adoptive parent to her nephew, she still feels that her h...usband Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) desires to be a father. To fulfill her husband’s only wish and to be blessed by Allah--in her belief that having a child is a tangible proof of divine grace--Shaleha resolves to find a new partner for her husband. Night and day, she and her husband sail from their floating village to nearby island communities in search of a fertile woman. Providentially, Shaleha finds the girl as recommended by friends. But on the eve of her husband’s second marriage to Mersila (Lovi Poe), jealousy gnaws and consumes Shaleha.

The close-up scene where Mersila gives birth shows the head of the baby coming out is so endearing – with Shaleha as the midwife, herself, deftly assisting in the delivery. It’s a scene so tender, bordering on the miracle of life and death, that will linger in the minds of moviegoers for a long time. Go watch it yourself and find out the ending of the story.

So says director Brillante Mendoza, “I am making a film about the Badjaos with the aim to celebrate a nonviolent people amidst a very violent world. It’s an intriguing premise about a particular people of peace living in a place of endemic violence.

The film gifts us with a visual feast and an exotic cultural experience. Sweeping you away and setting you loose in the midst of colorful Muslim wear and the unrecorded singing voice of the Badjaos, and their perfunctory mat weaving. He also presents you with contrasting imagery: the opulent wedding feasts against the prevalent poverty in the island; sporadic signs of violence among an otherwise gentle and generous people. But the real drama is behind Bangas-An and Shaleha’s quiet and deliberate movements stated in their press release.

Thy Womb is this year's most internationally acclaimed Filipino film--an official selection at the world's top film festivals in Venice, Toronto, Busan, Bologna, Vienna, Brisbane, Taipei, Dubai, Goa (India), Poland, etc.Nora Aunor’s splendid performance won her the Bisato d’Oro Award in the 69th Venice Film Festival. It is given by the Premio della Critica Indipendiente, an independent group of European critics

At the 6th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) held in Brisbane, Australia Nora Aunbor won as Best Actress with Brillante Mendoza as Best Director. It also won the  La Navicella/Venezia Cinema prize  for Brillante Mendoza from critics and from the Rivisita del Cinematografo, an Italian publication. And a special mention from the P. Nazareno Taddei Award.

Two nights ago, it won numerous awards at the 38th MMFF Awards Night at Meralco Theater in Pasig City. It won Nora Aunor the plum Best Actress and the Best Director to Brillante Mendoza. The other awards it reaped are Best Original Story (Henry Burgos), Best Cinematography (Odyssey Flores), Best Production Design (Brillante Mendoza), Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award, and Most Gender Sensitive Film. Aunor was also declared as the Female Star of the Night. I just could not understand why it didn’t win any Best Film Award.

By Dante Corteza