Takedera Mon Amour: Diary of a Bamboo Connection
Philippines/Japan 1991, 60 min, color
"When an irresistible force like 4 year old Haru Hito (Spring Being)...
meets an irrepressible cineaste like 45 year old Kidlat Tahimik (Quiet Lightening)...
in an irreplaceable place like 450 year old Take Dera ( Bamboo Temple)...
some things cosmic (and comic) gotta give."
(From an announcement for the film)
This “bamboo film” – as alluded to in the credits – deals with bamboo, a natural and frequently-used material in traditional Asian architecture and furniture, with whose help Kidlat Tahimik throws open a cultural metaphorical bridge between the Philippines and Japan – akin to the loincloth used with similar objectives in Japanese Summers of a Filipino Fundoshi.
Moreover, the term “bamboo film” refers to Kidlat Tahimik’s cinematic method, aiming for an alternative to mainstream cinema which is at once authentically Asian and yet based on production conditions in the Third World. The “silent force of bamboo” (an expression that previously cropped up in The Perfumed Nightmare) has parallels with Tahimik’s organically evolving and flexibly produced, but yet durable and sustainable movies.
The “bamboo camera” (a mock camera composed of fishing baits, coasters and other misused bamboo components), which was to become Tahimik’s constant companion at public appearances for years to come and an integral element in his installation works, makes its appearance in this film for the first time. The combination of 16mm footage and analog video recordings that characterizes his visual vocabulary over the coming years is also introduced here, after some Japanese acquaintances had lent the filmmaker a video camera. Obviously influenced by the “video letters” and “video diaries” genres that were popular in video art and experimental film circles during the 80s, Tahimik has here created his first movie sketch in which he liberates himself from the narrative conventions which still featured strongly in previous works like Turumba or The Perfumed Nightmare.
Takedera Mon Amour focuses on a series of encounters between Kidlat Tahimik and a Japanese monk and his family. Unlike in Japanese Summers of a Filipino Fundoshi, the problematic aspects of such cultural dialogue are not kept off-screen, as, for instance, in a sequence showing the launching of a primary school sponsored by a Japanese Lion's Club in Tahimik’s hometown Baguio. The centre of attention is Haruhito, son of the Japanese host family, whom Tahimik accompanies over his formative years. The desire articulated in this documentary, “to see with a child’s eyes” – a wish for unmediated images untainted by convention of any sort – is to be taken literally in this production: some of the footage was shot by Haruhito at various meetings in Japan and in the Philippines. This type of “collective camera operator” approach will also play an increasingly dominant role in Tahimik’s subsequent output.
As in The Perfumed Nightmare or Who invented the Yo-Yo? Who Invented the Moon Buggy? Tahimik again presents himself as a cosmopolitan mediator between “First” and “Third” Worlds, and yet also a cultural-critical guardian of traditions. He learns various Japanese words and studies calligraphy, which he integrates into his artistic practice: hand-written kanji decorate paper webs, walls and also his torso at one of his performance. The Japanese method of calligraphic writing is paralleled with operating the camera without the use of a tripod, so characteristic of his method of filming.
Takedera Mon Amour demonstrates in almost encyclopedic completeness bamboo’s multiple uses: musical instruments such as traditional flutes, clapperboards and rattles. Daily wares such as mats, roofing, bags, backpacks, book covers, picture frames made from woven bamboo. Weapons used in kendo training and as a pole in Tinikling, the Filipino folk dance. Then there’s bamboo-beds, -armchairs, -tables, -beer steins. And finally, even a traditional bamboo hut from the Philippines, which Tahimik carries as a kind of reverse-export to Tokyo and hence to the capital of high-tech and skyscrapers, from where goods are usually exported to the Philippines. While attempts to cultivate Japanese bamboo in the Philippines’ tropical climate succeeded only once, nonetheless Kidlat Tahimik articulated the hope: “Our kind of bamboo diplomacy can save the world” ‒ as a bamboo branch comes crashing through the window to ensure comic relief.
Bamboo Kamera: Kidlat Tahimik
Additional Kamera: Robert Yňquez, August Santiago, Shant Verdun, Ono Gihaku and Haruhito Ono,
Assistant Director: Ryuji Ozaki
Graphics: Shant Verdun
Music: Bamboo Music: Boy Garrovillo, Shant Verdun
Bamboo Song: „Kawayan“: Alan del Rosario
Bamboo Performance: Yokota
Bamboo Nose Flute: Katrin de Guia, Kidlat Tahimik
Sound: Ed de Guia
Editing: Kidlat Tahimik
Assistant Editor: Kidlat Gottlieb de Guia,
Many thanks to: Video Gallery Scan, Visual Folklore Inc. Matsushita Elec. Industry, A. K. T. (Amigos of Kidlat in Tokio), Japan Victor Co. (V. I. C.), Kodak Japan LTO, Kaga Tempel, Takedera Staff, Produced by Sunflower Film/Video Collective 1982 – 1989
This bamboo film was made possible through grants from the Japan Foundation and Hoso Bunka.