Spotlight: Perfumed Nightmare

Spotlight is a program dedicated to films that stand on their own as innovative and revelatory. The spotlight program presents individual films from around the world to be discussed, selected by filmfront and the community.


Not just a radically imaginative essay film, PERFUMED NIGHTMARE is also part documentary, film diary, fictionalized autobiography, and ethnography. (It was also Kidlat Tahimik's first film, made in 1977, with a shoestring budget of under $10,000.) Grounded in a personalized point of view, Tahimik depicts his everyday life as a bus driver in his hometown of Balian in the Philippines through a journey of de-colonization. As he dreams of going to the United States to become an astronaut, Tahimik pokes fun at the contemporary obsession with rapidly expanding technology in a supremely funny and playful way.

"Seamlessly blending fiction, autobiography, history and ethnography, the film begins as a self-portrait of Tahimik, his family and friends, and his hometown. When Kidlat realizes a lifelong dream to visit Europe, the disillusioning experience causes him to revisit his idealization of western culture and technology. this political awakening is told with both gentle humor and burning fervor. As a result, PERFUMED NIGHTMARE has become not only a founding text of “Third Cinema” and a classic of the surrealist counter-ethnographic genre; it’s also justly recognized as one of the finest essay films ever made."*

*Harvard Film Archives

by Kidlat Tahimik
1977, digital projection, 83 min


Some Place, Some Time: Alain Resnais' Je T'aime, Je T'aime


When a man (Claude Rich/Ridder) fails suicide and is asked to be a guinea pig for a time-traveling experiment, he takes the risk with the hope of seeing a woman from his past once again. It is their romance, in its ups and frequent downs, that comprise the majority of Alain Resnais' playful experiment with cinematic time and narrative. JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME's scientific experiment fails: its intention is to send Claude into his past to relive one moment from exactly a year before, but instead he becomes stuck in an infinite variety of moments that create a portrait of a man through fragments of banality. So much of the film's time is spent with Claude waiting on the street or laying in bed, swimming in the riviera or fighting with his lover Catherine. A subtle mixture of science fiction and bleak love story, time travel becomes Resnais' chariot for narrative experimentation--at times crossing from the everyday to the nearly surreal--in an attempt to rediscover lost time.

Special thanks to Jake Perlin of The Film Desk for making this screening possible.

by Alain Resnais
1968, Blu-ray, 94 min


Ripe Leeks: Forces Adrift

Ripe Leeks is a new screening series that exclusively showcases recent film and video work by Chicago-based artists.


The first screening, Forces Adrift, will feature work by Alejandro Jimenez, Fern Silva, Jason Ogawa, Traci Hercher, and a triple 16mm projection piece by Ian Curry. Come see snakes, spiders, mermaids, and the total destruction of earth.

curated by Michael Wawzenek of Little House