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Perfumed Nightmares is a semi-autobiographical film which follows Kidlat Tahimik (literally ‘Quiet Lightning’) as he discovers that the American dream of space travel, industrialization and technological superiority are really sweetly scented illusions which quickly reveal themselves to be less than benign.

An independent production costing $10,000 US, Perfumed Nightmare was funded in part through Tahimik’s work transporting people and objects in his jitney or ‘jeepney’ (abandoned American army jeeps which are salvaged and dismantled by Filipinos and rebuilt to become taxis). The ‘jeepney’ is prevalent in the film and acts as a metaphor for the cultural flotsam which infects an occupied country and the many ways resistance can flourish. Using first person voice-over Tahimik narrates this uniquely structured film which revolves around The Voice of America, The Werner Von Braun Fan Club and the desire to buy an electric light for his village’s only access–a bridge. Tahimik juggles and juxtaposes American technology with traditional Filipino knowledge including pseudo-documentary accounts of “First-” and “Third World” economic talks, folk tales and European travel films. As the film’s lead character, Tahimik mockingly takes on the role of a wide-eyed “Third World”er to lead the viewer through the swampy quagmire of cultural colonialism; in so doing he balances comedy and social critique. Shot in the Phillipines, Paris and Germany,Perfumed Nightmare depicts colonialism for what it really is: 500 years of a bad idea.

Director: Kidlat Tahimik

Year: 1977

Genre: Biography/Fiction

Length: Feature

Runtime: 93 mins


Country: Philippines

Language: Filipino (English sub)

Principal Cast: Kidlat Tahimik, Dolores Santamaria, Mang Fely, Hartmut Lerch, Georgette Baudry, Karin Müller

Producer: Kidlat Tahimik

Screenplay: Kidlat Tahimik

Editor: Hartmut Lerch

The name Kidlat Tahimik immediately connotes contradiction. As an obsessive cultural observer, Kidlat has been exploring his inner cultural contradictions by making his non-commercial films since 1975. This process of “introspection on celluloid strips” is his way of digging out the sariling dwende buried in the “education” process.

Born in 1942 as Eric Oteyza de Guia in Baguio City, he was raised in that American enclave resort town, situated in the heart of the tribal highlands of Igorot Culture. Three decades ago, he began questioning his American education, (a.k.a “my benevolent assimilation”). This had begun with his Maryknoll nuns in primary school; followed by further immersion in high school (Saint Louis HS) and college (UP Diliman) both institutions based on US urricula, ending up in America for a graduate degree (Wharton School MBA).

1977 Berlin Film Festival

Canadian premiere



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