Director: Sasha Friedlander | 80 minutes | USA | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) Indonesian, English | Countries: Indonesia, United States
“In East Java, Indonesia lies Kawah Ijen, an active volcano that houses a grueling, labor-intensive sulfur mining operation. Before daybreak, five hundred independent miners begin to collect and haul loads of up to 200lbs. of pure sulfur. They trek up a treacherous four-kilometer path out of the crater, engulfed in billowing clouds of sulfur dioxide gases. They then climb down to the village at the base of the volcano and unload, only to repeat the round trip journey several times before the day ends.
The miners sell the sulfur for subsistence wages equivalent to eight dollars a day, barely enough for food and basic needs, but insufficient to cover schooling costs for their children. Unfortunately this lack of education perpetuates the cycle of poverty, which prevents future generations from breaking away from the mine. Without their high school diplomas, no job opportunities await these miners within their communities. Making slightly more money than they would be making if they were to stay in their villages to farm, they continue mining in hopes of building financial security for their families, and ensuring that their sons will not become miners at Kawah Ijen. However, it’s not enough – the added income will never pull their families out of poverty, their children will continue to work in the mines, and generation after generation will follow the same path.
Even in times of unprecedented international attention to human rights, life-threatening accidents are common and exposure to the noxious gases leads to chronic lung disease, and shortened life expectancy. Sulfur is a vital component in the production of sugar, rubber, cosmetics, matches, and fertilizers. This film will give viewers a deeper understanding of what goes into the manufacturing of products they use daily.
Over a six-month period, this film follows four miners and their families, all at different stages in their lives and careers. “Where Heaven Meets Hell” is a study of endurance and the sustaining power of faith, love and family through desperate times; a portrait of endemic poverty and the costs of modernity on unprotected laborers.” (Official film website)
“Drawing strength from their Muslim faith and the love of their families, Indonesian sulphur miners face gruelling labour and treacherous conditions on an active volcano, while struggling to overcome the desperate poverty and illiteracy that plague their community. By the hundreds, independent sulphur miners ascend Kawah Ijen, an active volcano in Indonesia, for insignificant pay based on the weight of the sulphur they mine each day. Grueling physical labour and toxic billowing smoke wear down their bodies. Unable to afford protective gear, the miners are completely exposed to the harsh elements, breathing in the sulphuric gases and carrying the sulphur on their backs. First-time filmmaker Sasha Friedlander follows four of these miners, who struggle daily to feed their families and aspire to provide their children with a chance for a different future. Friedlander thoughtfully contrasts the miner’s village as a place of peace, spirituality and hope with the treacherous yet breathtaking beauty of the volcanic landscape as a place of pain and struggle. Where Heaven Meets Hell gives a voice to a community plagued by poverty and lack of education, desperate to break through their seemingly insurmountable constraints.” Lynne Crocker (Hot Docs 2012)
Producers: Sasha Friedlander, Bao Nguyen, David Osit
Director: Sasha Friedlander
Cinematographer: Sasha Friedlander, Bao Nguyen
Music Composer: David Osit
Editor: Sasha Friedlander
Production company: ROSEWATER PRODUCTIONS
SASHA FRIEDLANDER – DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR
Sasha Friedlander is an emerging filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Sasha completed her BA from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Culture in 2007, graduating with a focus in Balinese Dance and Documentary Film and she received her MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts in New York. After UCLA, Sasha received a Darmasiswa Fellowship from the Indonesian Government to study dance and photography at the Institute Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Art Institute) in Denpasar, Bali. While in Indonesia, Sasha began an internship at Bali TV, and because of her fluency in the Indonesian language, was asked to join a team of journalists from the BBC and the Bali Post to launch the first edition of the International Bali Post. From November 2008 through July 2009 she continued translating and editing at the Bali Post. Inspired by a brief trip she took to Kawah Ijen crater in East Java in 2009, she returned to Indonesia a year later, to produce WHERE HEAVEN MEETS HELL, her first feature film, which has been selected for funding and co-production by ITVS. Sasha was chosen to participate in the IFP/Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Emerging Visions program at the 2011 New York Film Festival, a yearlong project, which showcases and mentors 25 emerging filmmakers.
BAO NGUYEN – CO-PRODUCER/CINEMATOGRAPHER
Bao Nguyen is an accomplished photographer and filmmaker whose past clients have included the New York Times, Rolling Stone, MTV, Vogue, HBO, MoMA, ARTE, PBS, among many others. He directed and produced two award-winning PSAs raising Hepatitis B awareness in the Asian-American community, airing on major broadcast channels in both LA and San Francisco. He served as a Director of Photography on Saigon Electric, a narrative feature film about hip-hop in Vietnam that recently won the Silver Kite Award for Best Film at the Golden Kite Awards, Vietnam’s equivalent of the Oscars. He recently worked as the Director of Photography on the upcoming PBS project about the first Vietnamese-American Congressman Joseph Cao. He received his BA from NYU and his MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.
DAVID OSIT – CO-PRODUCER/COMPOSER/SOUND RECORDIST
David Osit is a producer/director and composer whose work and music has appeared on Arte, PBS, HBO, TLC, CNN and Channel4 among others, and whose clients have included both commercial and non-profit entities. David received his bachelor’s degree at the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, and studied refugee law at the American University of Cairo before pursuing a career in filmmaking, receiving his MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts in 2011. His first feature documentary film, Building Babel, will be broadcast on PBS in 2013
GEDE SINU PRADNAYANA – FIELD PRODUCER/BOOM OPERATOR
Gede Sinu Pradnayana is a freelance journalist and producer working in Indonesia. Most recently, he has worked as a commercial and music video producer for Visual Bali Studios.
FUNDING / PRODUCTION
With the support of ITVS, cpb, IFP, SOCDOC and kickstarter
The film will be broadcast on PBS in 2013.
Production: ROSEWATER PRODUCTIONS
Sasha Friedlander firstname.lastname@example.org
658 Warren St #3
11217 Brooklyn – États-Unis
Sales: ROSEWATER PRODUCTIONS
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
2011 IFP Independent Film Week
2011 IFP Emerging Visions
36th Hong Kong International Film Festival (Official Selection – World Premiere)
Hot docs 2012 (Official Selection, International Spectrum)
Visions du Réel Nyons 2012
ON THE WEB
Video trailer on Vimeo