Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vancouver International Film Festival - REVIEW: Señorita


Heyo, smutlings! Reporting back from more VIFF action!

Last Sunday night, I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Señorita, a film noir-inspired melodrama from the Philippines. As some of you film festival buffs may know, Señorita got its start as a short film of the same name (which also screened at VIFF last year) and had been recently expanded into a full-length feature.

Here's the official description of the plot from the film's official website:

Wanting to quit sex work in Manila and start a new life, Donna, a transgender woman, gets her chance when an old friend asks Donna to look after her 12-year-old son Tomas while she works overseas for a year. Donna moves to a small town to look after Tomas only to find out that the town mayor who is seeking re-election is a crony of one of her regular clients back in Manila. In her efforts to break away from her past, she becomes entangled in the town's local politics and ends up leading a double life

Here, screenwriter/director/actor Vincent Sandoval delivers an honest, and at times deliciously devious, portrayal of the transgendered femme fatale, Donna. It was refreshing to see a believable transgendered character at the crux of the story, with real emotions and motivations instead of a comical, superficial (read: flaming queen) caricature as often seen in Filipino cinema. And Sandoval's screenplay shines, intelligently weaving a political backstory of town corruption with Donna's secret life as a sex worker that sets up the final climactic scene where Donna is forced to face the consequences of her actions.

Señorita is a great exploration of the film noir genre, and is an exciting example of the future of Filipino filmmaking. Highly recommended.

For tickets and showtimes, visit http://www.viff.org/festival

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