In this, his 1977 feature-film debut, director Kidlat Tahimik, who is widely regarded as the father of independent Philippine cinema, stars as a Filipino jeepney driver who wants to emigrate to America to become an astronaut. Dreaming of an idealized version of the West, he chairs the fan club of the rocket designer Wernher von Braun and is a devoted listener of Voice of America. Traveling in his colorfully decorated extended jeep he arrives in Paris, where his illusions can’t survive.
Beneath its gag-laden surface, the film makes a passionate case for imagination, freedom, and cosmopolitanism. With playful ease, the self-taught director blends comedy, social criticism, absurdist humor, and self-mockery. During his travels in the Philippines and Europe, Kidlat Tahimik makes ironic use of tropes from ethnographic films and Western travel documentaries. He takes a hitherto unprecedentedly audacious and surrealist approach as he pulls apart American imperialism, European post-colonialism, and neoliberal consumerism.