As an obsessive cultural observer and self-taught cineaste, Kidlat Tahimik has been exploring his inner cultural contradictions since 1975 by making non-commercial films. This process of ‘introspection on celluloid strips’ is his way of digging out the sariling dwende [non-formula ingredients, inner instincts, voice of creativity] buried in the ‘education’ process. His works (which include his installations) are recognised for their humorous deconstruction of his ‘benevolent assimilation’ into American culture.
Among Tahimik’s most recent films and videos are Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III (2015), Bubong (Roofs of the World! Unite!) (2007), Our Film – Grimage to Guimaras (2006); Tatlong Atang at Isang Pagnakaw (2005), Some More Rice (2005), Aqua Planet (2003) and Banal-Kahoy (2000). His first film, Mababangong bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare), won the International Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival (1977) and was screened at 20 other festivals, including the Venice Biennale (2005). His film Turumba won the Best Third World Film in the Manheim Festival (1983).
Besides working as a director, actor and artist, Tahimik launched the Sunflower Film Collective in 1997 to share user-friendly video technology with tribal people so that responsibility for cultural documentation could rest in their own hands. He was filmmaker-in-residence and professor for independent film production, San Francisco State University (1990) and artist-in-residence at the East-West Center, Honolulu (1984).
He attended Catholic schools as a child and teenager and studied at the University of the Philippines Diliman (1958–1963). After receiving an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Philadelphia, US (1967), he worked as an economist. In 1972, he rejected his former way of life, adopted a commune-culture lifestyle and embraced an anti-Hollywood school of filmmaking.
Tahimik was born in 1942 as Eric Oteyza de Guia in Baguio City, Philippines, where he continues to live and work.