There are many ways to celebrate Women’s Month, whether you attend a rally, an event for a cause, or simply stay in the comfort of your own home. You can show your pride and solidarity even just by watching films that have females at the forefront or show female strength.
Fortunately, streaming sites have given us an abundance of local films—not just Hollywood fare—featuring strong female characters and performances we can binge throughout the month and beyond. Here are some recent and not-so-recent movies you may want to check out this Women’s Month:
It’s considered a Filipino film classic, with Nora Aunor’s performance widely considered as one of her most iconic. It tells the story of a young woman who forever alters her small town after claiming that she is a faith healer and can perform miracles. This movie first came out in the ’80s, showing the power of a woman with a belief, and challenging the notion of blind faith and what it can do to people. It also features a must-see performance by a local actress, and arguably one of the most unforgettable lines in Philippine cinema: “Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao!”
Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa (iWant/HOOQ)
A classic piece of literature by Lualhati Bautista originally published in 1988, “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?” is about Lea, a women’s rights advocate, and the challenges she encounters as a career woman and mother of two children from two different fathers. Even the film was quite ahead of its time in 1998, but it’s a movie that shows challenges and difficulties unique to women and especially mothers.
We’re all very aware of the plight of OFWs, the reality of giving up professions and providing for the family by seeking better fortunes abroad. The 2008 movie starring Sharon Cuneta depicted the harsh realities of being a caregiver and being a woman separated from her family. The movie is also a journey of self-discovery for Sharon’s character, who will realize in the course of the film that she is more than a wife who needs to follow her husband’s wishes. In the end, she realizes that she is her own person and is capable of fending for herself and her family, even without a husband.
Starring Vilma Santos, this 2013 film gives a rare glimpse of what it’s like to be an “extra,” or a background actor in local films. We see Vilma’s character suffer through terrible working conditions, power-tripping people in the industry, spend endless hours waiting around and yet believe that her big break is right around the corner. Despite the comedy in the film, it’s an accurate depiction of how the industry can be exploitative, especially to talent who aren’t big stars.
Ang Larawan (iWant)
An adaptation of National Artist Nick Joaquin’s work, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino,” “Ang Larawan” is a period film about two unmarried sisters reliant on their father and their brother to sustain their lifestyle. When their painter father became a recluse and with their finances in trouble, the sisters try to figure out how to pay for their own way without having to sell their father’s prized painting. It’s even a musical, with music by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, and starring musical theater stars, Joanna Ampil and Rachel Alejandro.
The 2018 Erik Matti film is lauded for being critical of Duterte’s drug war, and it also stars Anne Curtis as a lead agent in a ‘buy-bust’ operation to take down a drug kingpin. It’s action-packed, highly relevant, with a female not just playing a male cop’s wife, but is right at the thick of the action. More than Curtis playing against type, the film shows that actresses can front action movies and that women can be drug enforcement agency agents. It is also proof that local movies can be thrilling, complex, unexpected, and most importantly, speak truth to power.
Never Not Love You (iWant/iFlix)
On the outset, this Nadine Lustre and James Reid vehicle looks like your run-of-the-mill romcom, but it’s a lot more than that. Written and directed by Antoinette Jadaone, it explores the realism of falling in love young and building a life with your partner. It touches on themes like making pragmatic choices and even dealing with racism. This romance movie shows how far the genre can go when it’s allowed to be mature and break out of its usual ‘kilig’ mold. It’s also the film where Nadine Lustre showed audiences that there’s a lot more to her than the other half of a bankable loveteam.
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Writer: NIKKI FRANCISCO
ART LEVENSPIEL SANGALANG