Banal Kahoy - Holy Wood, 1995

Banal Kahoy - Holy Wood (1995)
Director: Kidlat Tahimik
The Philippines
Narrative | 44 minutes
English with Arabic subtitles
Film Still


Set between the foothills of the Ifugao tribe in the northern Cordilleras (The Philippines) and the temple grounds of Takadera in Saitama, Japan, Tahimik’s film reflects on tribal skills being commissioned to carve a praying buffalo for a Shinto shrine. Compelled by the differences between (trained) artist and (spiritual) carver, between the rural customs left behind and urban demands (when carvers leave for the city in search of work), between the sculptor’s simple chisel/mallet and the introduction of electric machines and their impact on images, Tahimik depicts the tension between the old ways and the prospect of modernity, deeply aware of the ancient knowledge that is lost when youth discard the ways of their forebears to replace their ‘holy wood’ creativity with the ‘Hollywood’ of lights and camera action.