Review: Thy Womb (Sinapupunan)

Reviews
by Carlos Aguilar
December 6, 2013 2:22 PM
5 Comments
  • |
Brillante Mendoza's 'Thy Womb'

Note: 'Thy Womb' is the Philippines' hopeful entry for the Golden Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet. International Sales Agent: Solar Entertainment Corporation

Giving birth to a child is a defining moment in every woman’s life. It represents the fulfillment of a biological purpose. It is also the promise of hope in a new being. Each society across the globe infuses the miracle of motherhood with its own particularities, but there is a unanimous appreciation and respect towards mothers as symbols of prosperity and keepers of a continuous cycle of life. Ironically in Brillante Mendoza’s film Thy Womb, the protagonist, a midwife unable to bear a child for her husband, decides to find him a fit woman to deliver him an heir. With immersive filmmaking and a breathtaking setting, this slice of life feature transcends mere ethnography to bring to the screen an augmented and visceral vision of reality.

Few words are ever spoken by Shaleha (Nora Aunor ), but her expressive eyes convey a religious peace and a love that knows no boundaries. Knowing that her partner Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) is reluctant to adopt a child and aware that her infertility won’t let her satisfy that necessity, she takes matters into her own hands. What she needs is simply a surrogate mother, someone who can provide him with such joy. Nonetheless, in this Bajau Muslim island community there are rules to abide by, and finding a mother for her husband’s child essentially means searching for a new wife. Lacking any sort of jealousy or selfishness Shaleha’s unconditional love motivates her to help him find the right young lady. Not only must they obtain permission from the woman’s family but they are required to raise a sizable amount of money and goods as dowry. Together they sell fish, trade, borrow and scrap as much as they can until they are able to afford Bangas-An's new wife.

Rendered to help others become mothers but never getting that opportunity herself, Shaleha is a character fueled by faith and not tormented by the poising nature of human desire. Played by acclaimed actress Nora Aunor, she carries the film through its many passages and depictions of the Bajau’s lifestyle. Nurturing and assertive she is indeed a woman more than capable of caring for a child, but the cards she has been dealt require her to act with selflessness. Naturalistic and minimal her performance resonates even in the silent and humble poetry that permeate the images.

Relying upon a basic storyline, the magic of the film lies in its design. Form is more relevant here than any twist and turns in the plot. Arranged with an eclectic cinematic grammar, the director incorporates aerial shots of the sea gypsy community combined with underwater sequences, slow motion observational shots, and seemingly traditional filmmaking that are always in motion, never static. The camera is alive, it moves around this world with grace. It is also completely conspicuous making the viewer aware of its presence. Mendoza places his characters in the real world and films them, which creates a sort of raw fiction that is neither entirely scripted or fully documentarian. Still, for all the experimental elements he includes, Mendoza made a film about tradition that simultaneously inspires a sense of discovery. Via its postcard-worthy landscapes and all-consuming spirituality, Thy Womb is a film that revels in its apparent simplicity, which makes for a compelling and revelatory piece. It lets outsiders intrude into a place undamaged by modernity and functioning in harmony despite being surrounded by external turmoil.


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5 Comments

  • Gilbert Guy Ferrer | January 11, 2014 9:29 AMReply

    Nora Aunor A Living Legend of the Philippines :)

  • LA CONSOLACION COLLEGE MANILA | December 7, 2013 3:44 AMReply

    SUPERSTAR NORA AUNOR's "THY WOMB" - is CIRCUMNAVIGATING the entire Earth, World and UNIVERSE ! "THY WOMB" is the OFFICIAL ENTRY to :

    1.) THE 69th MONSTRA INTERNAZIONALE D'ARTE CINEMATOGRAFICA LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA 2012 - VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in ITALY.
    2.) BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in SOUTH KOREA.
    3.) DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL....
    4.) INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF INDIA in GOA, INDIA.
    5.) ASIA PACIFIC SCREEN AWARDS in BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA.
    6.) TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in CANADA.
    7.) BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in AUSTRALIA.
    8.) TERRA DI TUTTI FILM FESTIVAL in BOLOGNA, ITALY.
    9.) VIENNA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in AUSTRIA.
    10.) GHENT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in BELGIUM.
    11.) GOLDEN HORSE FILM FESTIVAL in TAIWAN - November 9 -29, 2012.
    12.) 12th MEETINGS OF ARTHOUSE CINEMAS by the ITALIAN FEDERATION OF ARTHOUSE CINEMA (FICE) in MANTOVA, ITALY October 9 - 11, 2012.
    13.) LE VIE DEL CINEMA 2012 in MILAN, ITALY
    14.) ROME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in ITALY.
    15.) ST. PETERSBURG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in RUSSIA
    16.) MUMBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in INDIA.
    17.) PARIS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in FRANCE.
    18.) METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL 2012 - PHILIPPINES.
    19.) POLAND WORLD CINEMA FESTIVAL 2012 in POLAND
    20.) INTERNATIONAL FILM EXPO 2012 - DAVAO, PHILIPPINES.
    21.) INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF MARRAKECH in MOROCCO.
    22.) INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF BRATISLAVA - in SLOVAKIA ( November 9 - 15, 2012).
    23.) 20th PLUS CAMERIMAGE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF THE ART OF CINEMATOGRAPHY in POLAND.
    24.) TERTIO MILLENNIO FILM FESTIVAL - ROME , ITALY.
    25.) 2nd NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - DAVAO, PHILIPPINES.
    26.) 55th ASIA PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL in MACAU, People's Republic of CHINA .
    27.) 24th FORUM DES IMAGES FESTIVAL in Paris, FRANCE.
    28.) KOCHI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in INDIA.
    29.) PERTH FILM FESTIVAL in AUSTRALIA.
    30.) 7th ASIAN FILM AWARDS in HONG KONG.
    31.) FESTIVAL DU FILM ASIATIQUE DE DEAUVILLE - France (March, 2013).
    32.) 1st ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS (ASEAN) INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo March 28 to 30, 2013.
    33.) 37th HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.
    34.) PRAGUE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Czech Republic (March 20-22, 2013).
    35.) VILNIUS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Lithuania.
    36.) CPH PIX FILM FESTIVAL - Copenhagen, Denmark (April 13 - 20, 2013)
    37.) REGGIO EMILIA ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL - Rome, Italy.
    38.) INDIELISBOA 2013 / 10th INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL - Lisbon, Portugal.
    39.) TRANSILVANIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Bucharest, Romania
    40.) 7th GRANADA FILM FESTIVAL CINES DEL SUR - Spain
    41.) MUNICH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2013 - Germany.
    42.) 4th WORLD CINEMA AMSTERDAM FILM FESTIVAL - Netherlands.
    43.) ozASIA FESTIVAL - Adelaide, Australia.
    44.) 3rd SAKHALIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Russia.
    45.) 33rd HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - United States of America
    46.) SOUTHEAST ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL - Australia
    47.) EURASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Almaty, Kazakhstan
    48.) 57th LONDON INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - United Kingdom of Great Britain
    49.) RIO DE JANEIRO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Brazil
    50.) LUANG PRABANG FILM FESTIVAL - Laos
    51.) 8th AROUND THE WORLD IN 14 FILMS - Berlin, Germany..
    52.) The GOLDEN GLOBE - United States of America
    53.) BRAUNSCHWEIG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Germany..

  • Santie Mayrina | December 7, 2013 3:39 AMReply

    SUPERSTAR OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC - NORA AUNOR was hailed by the Hollywood's GREEN PLANET FILM AWARDS 2010 as "THE BEST INTERNATIONAL ACTRESS OF ASIA" she is also the main star of "HIMALA" whch was declared by the CNN as "THE BEST ASIA PACIFIC FILM OF ALL TIME".

  • Jason 'Camerado' Rosette | December 6, 2013 10:18 PMReply

    Seems like a fabulous movie...hope our friends in the Philippines get the statue with this one!

  • Matthew | December 6, 2013 10:13 PMReply

    For your consideration, Nora Aunor's masterful performance in this film. It merited her a best actress citation by an independent critics group during the 69th Venice Film Festival, where this film competed. The performance also won for her a best actress award in the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (Brisbane, Australia), Asian Film Awards (HongKong) and Sakhalin Int't Film Festival (Russia).

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