Amazing Women: How Marla Ancheta injected female representation in 'Doll House,' 'Finding Agnes'

Shiela Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2023 08:15 AM

MANILA -- In a sea of competing contents from all over the world, Marla Ancheta’s “Doll House” has managed to capture the attention and hearts of audiences, with her third feature film claiming the top spot on Netflix’s Top Movies in the Philippines list only two days after its premiere.

This triumph has not gone unnoticed even abroad, as it has secured a coveted position on Netflix's Top Movies worldwide.

During the recently concluded "Reflections of Me: Southeast Asia" panel, Ancheta delved into the unexpected success of "Doll House," exploring what she believes resonated with viewers.

Saying she herself was surprised with how it was received by the Filipino audience, Ancheta surmised that one of the reasons it became popular is because of its theme.

“It focuses on a family, a father trying to win her daughter back. The surprising thing about it is there are more males who were actually giving their opinion about the film. They can actually relate to the character. For me, that’s one of the biggest things that really captured the audience. They themselves maybe didn’t realize that they would be captured by the theme of the film,” she said.

Additionally, Ancheta credits the natural chemistry of her lead stars, Baron Geisler and Althea Ruedas, who played father and daughter.

“Baron Geisler is really good. He had a past but when they watched the film, they asked if the script was really written for him. Everybody knew his past story but when they were watching the film, it wasn’t all about that. They were surprised that he was good in portraying the character. I was thankful that the Filipino audience appreciated that for Baron,” she said.

“And of course, the little girl. I was amazed. She was a natural. She did an audition for that film so we were hoping that we get her because aside from the audience, there were requirements since we shot it in a different country. When we had her video, she was doing everything. She was acting, dancing. She is our Yumi for this film.”

Although “Doll House” and her other movie “Finding Agnes” both had male protagonists, Ancheta said it was inherent in her as a female filmmaker to have the journey of her two lead characters be inspired by the women surrounding them in the two movies.

“What we did, me and the writer, we injected representation of women in the story. You are following the journey of the lead guy but through his journey, there are different women that he encounters. In the end, how he was able to develop his character, it’s because of those women. It’s subtle but [representation is] there if you analyze it.”

Given her remarkable work as a female filmmaker, Ancheta brings to the fore the invaluable contributions that women bring to the film industry. Her ability to create compelling and nuanced stories that showcase the strength and resilience of women is a testament to her vision and dedication.

In line with the celebration of the International Women’s Month, Ancheta’s achievement could serve as a reminder that when given the opportunity, women can make a significant impact in the world of film and beyond.

This article is part of the Amazing Women series of ABS-CBN News this month of March, featuring stories of select women who are making a mark in their respective fields and advocacies. March is National Women's Month in the Philippines.


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