Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? (1994)

Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? (Kidlat Tahimik, 1994)
English Title: Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?

Perhaps because of its length, which is an hour more than the typical Hollywood fare that Filipinos have gotten chronically used to seeing, Kidlat Tahimik’s Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? (Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?, 1994) is criminally under-seen, and is therefore severely underrated. The film, which is effectively Kidlat Tahimik’s account of his personal life from 1981 to 1993, is perhaps the most personal work of the director whose films are intimately intertwined with him, his history, and his beliefs.

Because the film is essentially a collection of footage from various points of Kidlat Tahimik’s life during the timeline, the audience becomes openly familiar with the director’s private life: learning of the intricacies of his family, joining him in his creative and social endeavours, and reflecting with him on the political events that have been unfolding alongside his personal growth. It is perhaps the multitude of facets of an artist, all portrayed with the distinct generosity and modesty that Kidlat Tahimik is most famous for, that makes Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? such an invaluable and special film.

With the film, Kidlat Tahimik discusses alongside the difficulties of fatherhood, the birth pangs of the newly founded artists’ community he helped form in Baguio City, and the initial highs and impending disappointments of post-Ferdinand Marcos democracy. Considering the ostensible epic scope and ambition of the film, Bakit Dilaw ang Gitna ng Bahaghari? never feels burdened with self-importance.

The film moves and feels like a diary that he selflessly opens to his viewers, and in that sense, it never overreaches but instead comfortably sits in the midst of what Kidlat Tahimik is most knowledgeable of. Moreover, the film is laced with tangible authenticity. Shot and presumably made sans any script or creative intervention, the film evokes a sense personal, cultural and national histories unfold through the eyes of an active participant. In a sense, the film shows history as it is being made, raw but never confrontational, tender but never cowardly.

(This article was commissioned for the programme of the 12th Jeonju International Film Festival)

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