Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Aug 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Mining Hope

sasha1Documentary filmmaker and Santa Cruz native Sasha Friedlander shares both the beauty and struggle of life in the Indonesian sulfur mines

Santa Cruz native Sasha Friedlander’s debut feature-length film, Where Heaven Meets Hell, tells the true story of four sulfur miners who, despite working in hellish conditions—500 miners collect and haul loads of up to 200 pounds of pure sulfur up and down a volcano several times each day—are still as hopeful and cheerful as any other native of Indonesia. In anticipation of Saturday’s screening at The Rio Theatre, we sat down with Friedlander to discuss the making of the documentary, which took home the Grand Jury Prize for best feature documentary film and Outstanding Cinematography Award at the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and what’s next for the up-and-coming filmmaker. 

Good Times: How did you end up in Indonesia in the first place? 

Sasha Friedlander: My parents started bringing me to Indonesia when I was 7 and we all really took to the culture and the people and kept going back. I studied dance there for many years and my parents studied other art forms. I studied Indonesian in undergraduate and then went back to live there after I finished school to try and see what it would be like to live in Indonesia for some time. 

What was your goal in making this documentary? 

When I went to [Kawah] Ijen [volcano] for the first time, I was so blown away that there were working conditions that still existed in the world today like this. It’s actually a real ancient form of mining—it doesn’t really exist anywhere else in the world. No one does work like this anymore. To see that and to know the world doesn’t know about this or what’s going on, I felt like, being someone who knows how to work a camera and tell a story, it was sort of my obligation to help get this out into the world. sashathree

Where did the inspiration for the title, Where Heaven Meets Hell, come from? 

I was talking to the miners and they were fascinating. I was really blown away by the dignity they had in the way they held themselves, the pride they had, and the work that they did—being able to support their families even though they were breaking their bodies. So when I started formulating the film and writing the treatments, the name “Where Heaven Meets Hell” came to me because when you’re up there you feel like you’re in heaven, but in contrast what they’re doing is like hell. 

Did growing up in Santa Cruz have an influence on you and your worldviews? 

I don’t know if growing up in Santa Cruz had an influence on my worldviews, but I think how my parents raised me did. My parents always taught me that if there is something you could do to help, then do it. Make all the efforts that you can possibly muster to make it happen. 

I went to this mine for the first time and saw the working conditions and thought, “I make documentary films. This is what I love to do. I could make a film that could possibly make a difference for their lives and expose what’s going on here, and maybe the film could help lead to some sort of change—even if it’s just a little.” 

sashatwo

If you could describe this film in one word, what would it be? 

Hope. I feel like people see the trailer or read what the film is about and say, “I don’t know if I can handle these miners’ stories because it’s so depressing.” But I think when people do actually see the film, what they will walk away with is a sense of hope. 

Any future projects or similar films in the works? In the states or overseas? 

I’m doing research on a new project right now that I can’t talk about, but I definitely will make more films in Indonesia. There are some ideas, [but] nothing set in.


‘Where Heaven Meets Hell’ screens at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10, and available at the door. 423-8209. Photos 1 & 3: Sylvia Krzysztofek, Photo 2: Courtesy of 'Where Heaven Meets Hell.'

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

 

Say Uncle

Five types of kids, and how to be their best friend
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.