YIDFF 2009 Islands / I Lands—Cinemas in Exile
each film . . . an island?
An Interview with Kidlat Tahimik (Director)

Images—A Journey Embarking from What Can Be Seen

Q: What led you to incorporate the culture of the Philippines into this film?

KT: When you live in the Philippines, you can’t help but notice the influence of the 400 year colonial occupation. The problem is not only that the country is dominated by Western culture, but also the media, which propagates the culture, is Westernized. There is a good side to accepting other cultures, but I don’t understand why the culture already here takes a backseat. I’m not anti-American. You might call me pro-indigenous. I’ve absorbed a lot of Americanism growing up and become sensitive to the power disparity that develops. I just want to face Americans eye-to-eye as equal partners on the cultural plane. I also figure that it is a small but meaningful effort to show some respect to indigenous cultures at this time of the huge trend of increasing globalism.

Q: In your film, there are some images that imply something religious. Would you categorize it as a particular religious faith or your personal faith?

KT: I always have faith in cosmos. I’d say it’s my personal faith. People today have almost forgotten that kind of thing. I guess that’s because we have become a prisoner of a time machine and we tend to limit our imagination to the present time. Of course, we need to do our work in daily life under the circumstances we have right now, but we should also hold on to a wide perspective, leaving us room to escape. It’s important to keep trying to create and execute new things.

Q: You’ve incorporated a lot of visual images of the Philippines into the film. Though the film focuses on a particular place, it appeals to people all over the world. Do you think that’s because your work has a universal theme?

KT: I think that we, human beings, have universal emotions and souls if we look into ourselves deep down. However, in this modern world, they are confined by things like political, cultural and economic situations. As if time is regarded as God. And this thing called efficiency supports the concept that time is God and I think it also limits our potential to be universal. If we change our focus from efficiency instead to abundance, I’m sure we would be more positive as humans and people in 100 years might be able to continue in a life style aimed in that direction.

Q: You mean that we need to make our own decisions when it comes to making rules.

KT: Let’s say that rules are not something “you should always believe in,” so that you can interact or negotiate with them, instead of just following them. If everyone follows rules without any doubt, it pleases people in power like the police, as they are able to control you using those rules. We should not obey rules blindly, but deal with them and use them for making our own world. That’s what I believe the act of living in this world means.

(Compiled by Sasaki Tomoko)

Interviewers: Sasaki Tomoko, Ito Ayumi / Interpreter: Inoue Mayumo / Translator: Okazaki Ikuna
Photography: Chida Hiroko / Video: Chida Hiroko / 2009-10-14