Festivals, Reviews

Cinemalaya 2019: ‘Pandanggo Sa Hukay’ – A Tired Tale of Pseudo Feminism

TW: Mentions of sexual abuse and rape.

What’s the point? I spent almost two hours asking myself this as I watched this film unfold before my very eyes. Even after the audience clapped and the credits rolled, I was asking myself what the point of the whole film was.

Pandaggo Sa Hukay is a story about a midwife who is in the final stages of her application for a job overseas. At first, it seems harmless. However, somewhere along the way, the film takes a sharp turn and instead becomes a story about violent abuse and survivaland not in a good way. It felt like an introduction to something that never came because nothing really happens.

pandanggo sa hukay (2019) 3

While the film tries to say that women are resilient, we have to question the way in which they presented it. Why couldn’t they show that without the disgusting rape scene? Was the ending supposed to mean that she’s a “strong woman” because she didn’t go to the authorities when she could have and continued on with her day as if nothing happened? Why must women always be vandalized in order to show their strength?

Pandanggo Sa Hukay tried to make a name for itself in the age of modern feminism but fell flat because of multiple tired and overused elements. (Fat jokes? Really?) While technically, the film is sound and well put together, its story is lacking. Iza Calzado carried the whole film, but even she started falling off-beat as the script tried to figure out what it really wanted. It felt so disjointed at certain points that, at times, the film just felt like a series of shots and not a cohesive story.

Overall, it felt like a short film that tried so hard to be a full-length feature. Had they cut out a whole chunk of the film and condensed it with better pacing, it would have made a better short. It wasn’t bad, per se; there were redeeming qualities there. But, in the end, it just didn’t hit the mark.

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