31:17, 16mm, 2013
An experimental tale distorting Bali's modern world into a historical account depicting the demise of its former cultural motto, "Rice is Life." Ten wordless vignettes, all in-camera edits, are strung together to compose a two-part mythological venture down the heavenly mountain toward the demonic sea, culminating at the site of the 2002 terrorist bombing.
Chicago Underground Film Festival: April 5, 2014 @10pm [Logan Theater]
Indie Grits Film Festival: April 18, 2014 @5pm [Tapps Art Center]
The Indonesian island of Bali managed a system of rice agriculture that was perfect. Developed over millennia, the entire fabric of the island's culture was interwoven with the very essence of the crop. From religious ceremonies to societal organization to economic activities, a rice culture dominated. Rice wasn't essential to life; it was life.
In the 1970s, the sprawling country of Indonesia, made up of nearly 17,000 islands, struggled to keep up with its population growth. To feed its people, the government brought the Green Revolution to Bali in hopes to increase rice production. This worldwide initiative was meant to help farmers by providing them with various strains of "new rice" and modernized techniques to produce high-yielding crops.
Within the decade, the Green Revolution destroyed Bali. A quarter of the island was burned to rid the pests that overran the never-lay-fallow land. Paper money replaced a barn full of rice as currency which led to an influx of gambling, cockfighting, and prostitution. By bureaucratically taking control of the farming methods, ignoring the cultural significance, and transforming the natural practice into a mechanical operation, the Green Revolution shattered the structure of Balinese life indefinitely.
Tourism began to flourish. In the 90s, the reign of mass tourism replaced cultural tourism, inviting a new wave of economic imperialism to take hold. It has continued to squeeze its mighty grip, inducing hatred from radical Islamic groups perceiving this small island as a haven for all that is unholy with Western culture. In a direct response to the United States' War on Terror, Osama bin Laden attacked Bali in 2002, cementing into place the distorted reality Bali has chosen for itself. The "Island of the Gods" mutated into the epitome of capitalistic vanity.
It comes naturally to think that the southern seas, where Bali's mythological demons dwell, harnessed the beginnings of the tourist destination and fueled it up and beyond, ultimately tampering the holiest mountain on the island: Gunung Agung--the Great Mountain--where a unique spatial orientation still exists in the natives' minds, forever situating them between the mountain and the sea. Barong, the God of good, lives on this mountain. It seems as if Barong has left the island in defeat, abandoning his people he once watched over.