“For me, the term ‘third world’ means a way of thinking and a way of solving problems. For instance, a car broke down on the road, a ‘first world’ person would be helpless and give up, but if this happened in the Philippines, people nearby would gather around the car and try everything possible to solve the problem. So, ‘third world’ means flexible ways of thinking and wisdom to solve problems in a soft way.” -Kidlat Tahimik
Kidlat Tahimik, born in Baguio City, Philippines 1942, has won numerous respected awards internationally, but few people have ever seen his work and know who he is.
His first film Perfumed Nightmare was finished in 1977, costing only $10 000, it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, stunning the audience. This film alerted the world to the evolving Filipino cinema and made Tahimik a representative of the third world cinema movement. Tahimik had never before received any conventional filmmaking training.
This background enables Tahimik to think outside the box. The creating source of his work comes from his life and memory, and the films freely cross over genres. Among the most important of his film work is Why Is Yellow Middle of Rainbow. From 1981, Tahimik started filming his family and life. He collected all the footage and called it his precious “home movie”. Meanwhile, the political situation in the Philippines was chaotic. President Marcos was forced to promise to restore the freedom of party activities and prepared to hold an election in May 1984. With Marcos’ promise of safety, the leader of the opposition, Benigno Servillano Aquino was given the opportunity to return to the Philippines, but was assassinated upon arrival at the airport.
These social incidents made Tahimik think about the relationship between his family and Filipino society. He thus started to mix his home movie footage with television news, western movies and historic films, finishing I Am Furious Yellow in 1986. The film depicted his thoughts towards the Philippines’ history and culture.
On February 25 th of the same year, swarms of people surrounded the presidential office; 3.5 million people were out on the streets demanding Marcos’ resignation. Marcos fled to Hawaii in an American Army helicopter, and Aquino’s widow Maria took over the presidential seat. The dictatorship in the Philippines was officially over.
Afterwards, following the changes in the Philippines, and his family, he edited new elements into the film, using color as metaphor for the change in both his state of mind and the Philippines. Then, he finished the Rainbow series, also called The History of Never-Ending Documentary. In Tahimik’s own words, the film has never stopped reproducing itself. He thinks the work “has an open focus approach which allows spontaneous home movie images to find the center of focus in the yellow–colored anti-dictator demonstrations.”
Tahimik’s work is always full of imagination. Instead of quality he cares more about the inner soul and spiritual power of the images. He once said “My co-director is our universe”.
The cores of his films tend to be introspective of his own memory and self-examines of the complexity of his country. Most of his work relates to the historical development of the Philippines; for instance the influence of American culture, dictatorship, military coup d'etat, people’s revolution. However, Tahimik doesn’t deny nor resist foreign influence; on the contrary, he accepts all influences with an open mind, looks back on his life and accepts what he is honestly, through biographic narration and home video images. He never forgets who he is and stays proud of his culture.
His attitude towards history could perhaps be provocative in Taiwan. With a similar Asian historical background, his work could hint that we should try to resolve the difficult questions from our own history, all the while keeping a sense of humor and finding more relaxed and innovative ways to resolution.
This year, 2010 TIDF is very proud to introduce Tahimik’s retrospective screenings. Eight of his works will be shown, and Mr. Tahimik will participate in the event. Hopefully, this special screening will give the audience something to remember.
by Wood Lin