Philippines | 2015 | 91 mins | Filipino | Indian Premiere
Set in a small Filipino seaside town, Miss Bulalacao employs subversive fantasy to ask how a conservative society might react to a gender-busting ‘miracle’. The film begins with gay teenager Dodong winning a local byukon (drag beauty pageant). Later, fleeing from his drunken father, he hides in the jungle, is enveloped by a great white celestial light and glimpses creatures clearly not of this planet. Several weeks pass and Dodong discovers himself to be pregnant, to the disbelief of his family and neighbourhood. But when his ballooning stomach is declared a miracle, Dodong is venerated as the embodiment of the ideal Catholic female—a blameless virgin mother. He subsequently becomes common property, ambushed by neighbours seeking divine intervention in earthly problems. Miss Bulalacao is notable for its striking mise-en-scène which veers between three bold colours—blue dominates when Dodong’s notional womanhood is rejected, pink when it is celebrated and yellow when Dodong is accepted just as he is.
Ara Chawdhury studied mass communications at the University of the Philippines and has been involved in Cebuano* film production since 2007— working as an actress, screenwriter, producer and director. Prior to Miss Bulalacao, she directed the shorts Operation Puratas (2015) and Sabado, Sabado (2012). Ara is also a founding member of Otakufest—Cebu City’s first collegiate ‘cosplay’ and hobbies event. “I’m a slave to the story and stories don’t ever stop developing,” she says. “I often can’t tell what genre it’s going to be until we’re about to shoot. At the moment, my scripts tend to veer towards fantasy and horror with comic twists, but I don’t want to define myself this early on. I’m still learning.”
* A regional language of the Philippines.