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The notion of alterity is at the very core of the film, both from the anthropological and the metaphysical, the relation of the self with the rest, the infinite. The narrative departs from a classical construction of the other, showing ancestral rituals and beliefs, and evolves towards a reflection of the other in the self, or a sort of game between the I and the me.

In parallel, my relationship with the characters has experienced a similar evolution along the more than four years that we have been involved in the project. The film itself, the space created by cinema, has been the vehicle through which we have explored distances, constructions of reality and forms of communication through layers that, somehow, transcends them.


In the small village of Bulusari, where the film takes place and where all the characters live, I observed the coexistence of three mythical layers identifiable with Indonesia’s recent colonial history; techno-capitalism, Islam and Hindu animism. It was easy to think about situations, spaces and rituals with parallelisms in those three dimensions and from those ideas; in a rather intuitive and playful manner, we structured the narrative.

I never imagined myself making a film, rather I found myself making one.

We were also conditioned by the fact that the image of Kawa Ijen sulfur miners is commonly connected to the notion of misery, to which those who do not participate in global trade are condemned. It was rather important to distance the film from that stigma, get into something perhaps more elevated and even question progress as the myth of modernity.


In terms of form, it seemed appropriate to use fixed frame and a single shot per scene to somehow free the characters inside the picture and allow them to compose with their own movement, while limiting the power granted to the camera and the editing. And I was also attracted by the space that was thus given to chance, allowing it to intervene at will, in a sort of cinematic act of faith.


It is difficult to say why I chose this project, I never imagined myself making a film, rather I found myself making one. A few years after I started living in Indonesia, I met Yono, Nurus, Pendi and the others, and everything unfolded as a relentless stream.

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