Miss Bulalacao, the independent feature film directed by award-winning Filipina filmmaker Ara Chawdhury, recently screened at the Cebu leg of the Active Vista International Human Rights Film Festival. The movie won Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (for Chai Fonacier) at Cinema One Originals 2015.
Miss Bulalacao is about a drag queen, Dodong, who joins a barangay (village) gay pageant to gain acceptance in his father’s community. He instead faces hostility from his father who chases him to a jungle, where he sobs to a lone bright star. What follows is the strangest night in his entire life, and an even stranger nine months when he realizes he is pregnant. With only his stepmother, Lisa, as a support, Dodong deals with ridicule from the people who do not believe him – until his predicament becomes a tabloid headline: "Bakla, Ina ng Diyos!”
-Synopsis from Active Vista Film Festival catalogue
The above synopsis is but a brief glimpse into the rich, thought-provoking masterpiece that is Miss Bulalacao. If the quirky narrative isn’t enough to pique your curiosity, here are more reasons why you should be on the lookout for this movie!
Visually Compelling & Evocative Storytelling
Miss Bulalacao comes off as a paradox of sorts. The narrative is simple yet complex, the characters relatable and repulsive and the eponymous small town of Bulalacao seems both familiar and otherworldly at the same time. All of these elements weave together in a narrative that is beautifully composed and rich with symbolism. Also, I must mention that there are some strong Wes Anderson feels in the movie, a compliment of the highest order since Wes Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers! Overall, Miss Bulalacao is well acted, visually and aurally striking and the storytelling is restrained, evocative and powerful.
Unique Exploration of Contemporary Issues
The film raises some serious questions on topical issues like faith, religion, social acceptance, human rights – particularly the rights of the members of the LGBT community – and abuse against women. What I love most about Miss Bulalacao is that it is not heavy-handed or preachy in the way it deals with these subjects. It creatively depicts its main issues and then leaves it up to viewers to think and decide for themselves what to make of everything. Movies that put out important points open for interpretation always leave me with a more lasting impression. To say that I left the cinema haunted and pensive would be an understatement.
Miss Bulalacao is the labor of love of a young Filipino filmmaker and a Filipino cast and crew. Their passion shines through in the careful and thoughtful presentation of the film. I had a brief chat with Ara Chawdhury after the screening and she said that everything in the film is purposeful. Movies like Miss Bulalacao remind us of the power and potential of film as a catalyst of change. It is also a brilliant showcase of Visayan ingenuity and creativity. This is a movie that we can all definitely be proud of!
For more updates on future screenings and releases, follow the official Miss Bulalacao page on Facebook