Review: The Perfumed Nightmare

by Matt Manalo

November 18, 2015

Who would have known that the Father of the New Filipino Cinema would be so connected to Houston and the NASA Space program? The first and well-acclaimed film of Kidlat Tahimik titled Perfumed Nightmare or Mababangong Bangungot, in Filipino, was shown last November 13, 2015 at the Aurora Picture Show. The event was organized by Houston Cinema Arts Society as part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, which runs November 12-19, 2015.

The event included a full-length showing of the film, a performance, and an installation by Tahimik. The 93-minute film features a narrative about a Jeepney driver’s dream of experiencing the first-world country life. He then embarks on a journey of making his dream into a reality as he slowly realizes the ugly side of progress.

It is then followed shortly by a performance with Tahimik wearing a graduation gown after graduating from the University of Hollywood. He started off by singing Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Elgar then goes off on a monologue about what Hollywood has taught him. He mentions the formula of sex and violence as the main ingredient to make a “blockbuster hit” to his mother.

After the performance was a Q & A portion with the director. I asked Kidlat Tahimik what advice can he give to the young Filipino artists who make work in the United States or other countries. His reply was simply: “Follow your duende.” He further expounds about the duende being your inner voice who sees the world in a different viewfinder.

The night was ended with the viewing of his installation work that was composed of wooden sculptures, candles, and Ifugao tapestry.

Perfumed Nightmare and another film by Kidlat Tahimik titled Who Invented the Yoyo? Who Invented the Moon Buggy? were partly inspired by NASA. They are are part of the CineSpace series of the festival.