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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Turumba is actually Kidlat´s first film


Turumba is actually Kidlat´s first film. It focuses on one family's traditional occupation of making papier-mâché animals for the Turumba religious festival in a Filipino village. Everything changes when a German agent buys all their stock and orders more for the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany; soon the family's seasonal occupation becomes a year-round routine of alienated labour. Eventually the whole village is converted into a jungle assembly line to produce papier-mâché mascots for the Munich Olympics. With the intrusion of electric fans, TV sets, Beatle records, and the compulsion of work schedule, the traditional rhythm of family and village life is irretrievably broken.

File:Kidlat tahimik.jpg

Success for the family coincides with the emergence of a local proletariat whose innocence is ironically shrouded by the turbulent storm, emblematic of the revolt of nature, that overtakes the whole village. Is this the judgment of a subliminal conscience, or the ironic comment of a sagacious historian? J. Hoberman remarks that the film is "not only amusedly Marxist but mock German in its low-key nostalgia as the old-time völkische gemeinschaft succumbs inexorably to the bad, new gesellschaft of industrial civilization." Just as the first film rejects modern progress and its dehumanizing effects, Turumba laments the passing of the old sacramental unity of man and nature, opting for a middle way of compromise: the bricolage of the film-maker, reusing the past to renew the present and thus initiate a more imaginative, organic, integral future.

Both Perfumed Nightmare and Turumba use realist scenarios to project an allegorical rendering of the Filipino experience under U.S. colonial domination and its disastrous neo-colonial sequel. What engages my interest here is the vision of the future inscribed in the films, and how their cinematic methods may hopefully allow popular energies to intervene in blasting the burden of the nightmarish status-quo--the legacy of colonialism and corporate globalization -- which Kidlat addresses more directly in his more politically astute concoction, Bakit Yellow ang Gitna ng Bahaghari (Why is the heart of the rainbow yellow). On the latter film, we can postpone our commentary for another occasion.

Tahimik attented the University of the Philippines,[1] where he was a member of the Student Council, then known as the University Student Union, from 1962 to 1963. While attending the university he became a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity. Kidlat Tahimik studied at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, earned a Master in Business Administration, and worked as a researcher for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris from 1968 to 1972.[2]
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