january 23-30, 2002
greenbelt cinema 1, makati city
metro manila, philippines www.mov.moviespage.com
Banal-Kahoy" (Holy Wood) is a docu-feature shot in digital video and 16mm film about the woodcarvers of Hapao, Ifugao. The Hapao culture is embodied in this indigenous tribal leader named Lopez-Nauyac, a woodcarver of 50 years. Lopez-Nauyac has begun returning to nature what he gets for free. He is reviving the indigenous forestry management called the "pinugo" system, which is the foundation of Rice Terraces. "Banal-Kahoy" (Holy Wood) refers to the tree spirits that have been protecting the rice terraces. Scenes include the Hapao woodcarvers' trip to Japan to carve a sacred totem pole in a temple from a 250-year old tree that was killed by lightning.
Running Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
directed by: Kidlat Tahimik
Tahimik, whose real name is Eric de Guia (Kidlat Tahimik means "quiet
lightning" in Tagalog and is also the name of his
first son, born before completing this film), grew up "eating French fries and burgers" in Baguio,
The Philippines. (Baguio is a summer resort, influenced by American culture
from longstanding U.S. bases.) A restless and ambitious person with an
idiosyncratic and somtimes mystical vision, he began this, his first film,
more or less by accident. He had come to Europe to sell Filipino-made
trinkets, but a typhoon delayed the shipment. (Some of this history was
later reworked in a later film, Turumba.) Stranded, he made some contacts
with filmmakers, including Werner Herzog. On $10,000, using outdated film
stock, found and stock footage, and donated in-kind resources through
Herzog's network, he spent years simultaneously making this film and
learning how to make film. The film was released in the U.S. through Francis
Coppola's now-defunct studio Zoetrope (again, through Herzog's connections,
with Coppola's producer Tom Luddy).
Tahimik returned to the Philippines, but lives an international life. His later films are in some ways simpler than this one, which depend for its effects on elaborate pastiche. He has been working on a film called Memories of Overdevelopment (a takeoff on Tomas Gutierrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment) since 1983. It is to be the story of the first man to voyage around the world--not Magellan, but one of his slaves, bought in the Philippines.
Kidlat Tahimik is a Filipino filmmaker and shaman who applies his quiet
strength and sharp wit to lead the viewer through the cultural maze of his
homeland. Born in 1942 during the US occupation, Tahimik spent "the next 33
typhoon seasons in a cocoon of American dreams." His first feature film, Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare), and his second film, Turumba,
investigate the convoluted historical and political events surrounding the
colonization of his homeland. Through concentrating on the individuals and
communities that have been shaped and irrevocably affected by the
technological age, he has created a humorous and incisive fable which
explores his awakening to, and reaction against, American cultural
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