Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
May 05th
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

 

Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence