"Rice for Sale"
Experimental Documentary in Bali, Indonesia
2013, 16mm, < 30 minutes
As a whole, this film will take the Balinese Hindu approach to viewing the world--not in paired opposites like a typical Westerner, but in threes: the good, the bad, and the balance.
SECTION 1 : EXPLANATION OF FILM
Explanation in 3 parts (short):
Part 1: "Rice is Life"
- There is no difference from the small white grains of food and the people themselves.
Part 2: "Secular Rituals" (title tentative)
- The dance of good and evil has transformed from a sacred ritual to a mass-produced entity almost entirely devoted to tourism.
Part 3: "To the Sea"
- Seaward bound, we go to where the demons lie.
Explanation in 3 parts (long):
Part One: "Rice is Life"
Rice is not just an essential aspect of Balinese life; it is life. Over a millennia, they have managed to develop a perfect system that exists in natural harmony with the environment, community, and its rice god. Simply put, rice is the centerpiece of all cultural paradigms: historical, social, religious, mythological, etc. Even a newborn's life is celebrated on three specific days that coexist with the three most important days of rice production. To my brother and I, after all this research, there is no difference from the small white grains of food and the people themselves.
In the 1960s, there was a population explosion in Indonesia. To feed its hungry people, the government chose Bali to expand its production with "new rice", a processed rice wrought with peril. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and machinery overran Bali. This "new rice" almost destroyed the fundamental essence of this island. Once again, the capitalist, western methods failed an indigenous civilization.
VISUALS: Northern Bali's rice farmers tending their crop- the true essence of the island.
AUDIO: Balinese language with English subtitles telling a destructive tale of Bali's "new rice" implemented by the Indonesian government in the 1960s.
Part Two: "Secular Rituals" (title tentative)
This section of the film will focus on three points: Kaja/Kelod; Linguistic Relativity; Barong and Rangda (eternal battle of good and evil).
The Balinese people have a unique spatial orientation that situates them between the mountains and the sea. Kaja (North)- the way to the mountain, where the gods rest along with the indigenous peoples. Kelod (South)- the way to the sea, where the demons dwell beside the tourism industry. To this day, the Balinese sleep with their heads pointed kaja, situate their homes so the toilets/garbage are the most kelod location of the house, etcetera.
There is a story in ancient Balinese mythology that exists in unison with kaja and kelod. It is the tale of Barong, god of the mountain, and Rangda, demoness of the sea; it is the eternal battle of good and evil. Portrayed in a dance, it has transformed from a sacred ritual to a mass-produced entity almost completely devoted to tourism.
Looking into language theory, we see an idea called linguistic relativity explaining that your reality (experience and thought) is influenced by your language. For millennia, the Balinese have led their lives with kaja and kelod always present in their minds, allowing it to cement into a reality: the good towards the north, and the bad towards the south. My brother and I can't help but notice the irony of mass tourism gathering its white forces near the southern seas.
VISUALS: The ritual dance of Barong and Rangda performed for tourists, the two cultures coming together, the balance or compromise.
AUDIO: Indonesian language with English title cards telling a story of kaja and kelod, north and south, good and evil, gods and demons, mountains and sea, etcetera. We will take the approach of linguistic relativity and Bali's Hindu mindset of harmonizing paired opposites, something with which a Westerner is unfamiliar.
Part Three: "To the Sea"
In the final part, we will head seaward where the demons lie.
Bali reversed its economics from being agriculturally sustainable to being utterly dependent on tourism in under a half-century. At the start of this transformation, cultural tourism was the goal so as not to hurt the Balinese. This goal was eventually scrapped and led to the reign of mass tourism: something with no regard for preserving the native peoples' way of life and equal disregard for distributing the money back into the land.
In the West, the idea of "paired opposites" dominates the mind. Good and evil exist in continuous competition; right and wrong are absolutes. Imagine a life where eradicating evil is not the answer to a life of moral riches, or knowing only what's right is the solution. As Westerners, we are instilled with this idea at birth and judge all aspects of life in black-and-white terms. The Balinese, however, have the ability to find a balance in everything, to harmonize love and hate, life and death, etcetera. The balance is all they know, all they can know.
VISUALS: By the sea, we see tourists, hotels, restaurant chains, modernity.
AUDIO: We will keep this portion open. We dislike being entirely bogged down by a "documentary proposal", but of course, it is necessary for you guys. So, to make you and us happy, we will allow this part to manifest into reality over the next six months; it will not disappoint!
*This is a complete outline, but it is common in documentary for story to change once production begins.
SECTION 2: PROJECT EXPENSES
- 25 100ft rolls of Kodak film 7201/7219 : $675
- Process/Print/Digitize 25 rolls at 0.55 cents/foot : $1375
- Digitize title cards (subtitles) : $150
- Two plane tickets to Bali, Indonesia : $3,200
- Living Expense in Bali (6 weeks at roughly $9/day each) : $750
- Money to host family in Bali for 6 weeks : $600
- Graphic designer for post production : $200
- Film Festival submission costs (25 fests at $30 each) : $750
- DVD cases (paper and print) : $200
- DVDs with printed image on disk (180 count) : $215
- DVD envelopes (150 count at 0.40 cents each) : $60
- Custom designed graphic t-shirts : $500
- Film Stills : $25
- Post office costs : $500
All this comes at a grand total of 9,200 dollars! With Kickstarter and Amazon fees at 800 dollars, we're looking at $10,000 to fund this project. BUT, as the video stated, we are only asking for $8,000 but will be more than happy campers if we can reach our actual goal of $10,000. Thank you so so much for reading this far and hope you contribute to our film!
Disclaimer: The video you see above is not ours, will never be ours, and of course will not be used in the final product of this film. It is there solely to show our Kickstarter viewers a true depiction of a Balinese dance.
Risks and challenges
The first challenge would obviously be running out of money. Daily expenditures could be more costly in Bali. We might have to fork over some money to film in certain tourist areas. The family could expect more money (we're giving them $100/week for food, shelter, and gratitude). As stated above, we're only asking for $8,000 ($7,400 after Kickstarter/Amazon fees) even though the real cost sans Kickstarter is $10,000. We plan on leaving in early February to save up the $2,600+ we need BEFORE we go so as not to run into troubles. Reminder: our first film project, "Por Dinero", received $3,600 in Kickstarter funds. We pulled $4,000 out of our own pockets working 50-hour workweeks as cooks to finish the film and fulfill the rewards for our beloved Kickstarter donors. Our number one priority will ALWAYS be our films.
The second challenge is not living up to the film description we laid out for you guys. It's simple: we say the second part consists entirely of Barong and Rangda's traditional, ritualistic dance. We have to be prepared to meet the grave possibility that we aren't allowed 200 meters of these dances with camera in hand. A challenge we can and will overcome! Especially considering we will be accompanied by our Balinese friends' families during most times. We'll be insiders.
The third challenge is an ever-present language barrier. As of now, we've been studying Indonesian for a few months. We've purchased a 6-month online program called LiveMocha. It's a social network site along with a language learning facility. Our Indonesian "friends" can grade our speaking/writing quizzes and leave feedback as we help them learn English. Excited to be learning another language, especially something that connects us to the speakers themselves!
The fourth challenge is the increased hostility towards Americans and Westerners stemming from the recent YouTube video. Bali is a Hindu island, but it is surrounded by its mother country of Indonesia, which is 90%+ Muslim. There were two Bali terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005. So yes, fear is another challenge to overcome. But in our youth, we fear nothing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)