[Trigger warning: The films contain themes of abuse and discrimination.]
Screw the male gaze. Our screens need more real, non-objectifying stories of women.
Imagine how tired women are of gender inequality on the daily, only to witness their on-screen representation fail them altogether. It’s time we shove narratives that put women in dangerous, retrogressive stereotypes down the drain—and make room for stories that show what women actually are. Keyword? Diverse.
For starters, here are Filipino documentaries made by women starring women. Minus the “crazy lady,” “trophy girlfriend” and “object of unhealthy projection of insecurities” tropes, OFC.
“Nanay Mameng” (2012)
Dir. Adjani Arumpac
This Gawad Urian-awarded docu grants a promise: a woman’s place is in the revolution. We meet the 84-year-old Nanay Mameng, a well-known mass action leader who dedicated half of her life to helping the urban poor—with all its joys and pains squished in 45 minutes. A powerful character study involving poverty and domestic violence, we witness all the reasons why the fight needs to live on.
“Kung Saan Ka Happy: An A.D.N. Story” (2020)
Dir. Kimberly Ilaya
Shaming women for loving romance? No room for that misogynistic energy in 2021. This diary entry-like film sits down with four women (of different ages) who love one thing: the AlDub (Alden Richards + Maine Mendoza) tandem-slash-pop culture phenom. It’s wholesome, warm and empowering, a.k.a. the feeling of healthy, shameless stanning.
Dir. Beverly Ramos
Most of us fear growing old alone, but this emotionally-charged documentation of 101-year-old Dory’s life, a trans woman, speaks beyond the deadline. As the beautician confronts old age alone, she ponders whether her life’s a blessing or a curse.
Dir. Ramona Diaz
Not wanting to be a mom is cool. Wanting to be a mom is also cool. But TBH, how difficult it must be with our poorly-supported healthcare system. Hammered with siren-like infant cries and disturbing revelations, we visit Fabella Hospital, Manila’s “baby factory.” As mothers deal with cramped rooms welcoming their newborns, we critique our reproductive health policies and conservative ideologies.
“Sunday Beauty Queen” (2016)
Dir. Baby Ruth Villarama
On Sundays, most Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are free. Not exactly free from the responsibility of sustaining their families in the Philippines, but momentarily available to be the beauty queens that they are. This docu follows five OFWs who try to get a sense of empowerment in pageants—all while dealing with the harsh realities of the working class.
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Still from “Dory”