I had the distinct privilege of viewing an advance screener of Bali: Beats of Paradise and participating in an interview with Director Livi Zheng and Musician Judith Hill to create this post. Though I was compensated, the opinions in this post are all my own.
I am obsessed with music. I am also obsessed with film. So when something comes across my desk that marries both music and film, I can’t see to take my eyes or my interest of that thing.
I was recently made privy to Bali: Beats of Paradise which is a documentary by the insatiable Livi Zheng, that followed the success of a simple invitation to film a Balinese Galman concert by the Indonesian Consulate and resulted in her falling fast and hard into the beauty of what she was capturing that she needed to convert that project into a bigger, more powerful one.
And do that very thing she did.
Instead of regurgitating all of the amazing parts of the film or word for word from our interview, I’d like to share with you five compelling reasons you must see Bali: Beats of Paradise when it hits select theaters starting November 16.
1. It stars the phenomenal, Judith Hill
Judith met Livi under some interesting circumstances. She was putting together a big show called The Golden Child that is a musical that brings culture together and wanted to include Balinese Gamelan music and dance. Upon learning of that, a mutual friend introduced them and, after clicking, the rest is history.
2. You know Balinese Gamelan, even if you don't think you do.
From Livi: Actually, Gamelan is Indonesian traditional music but Gamelan has influenced a lot of the pop culture. For example, do you know the film Avatar by James Cameron? It uses Gamelan. The Los Angeles Times wrote about this. And also, the TV show Star Trek used Gamelan, as well. The Nintendo game Mario Brothers also uses Gamelan. So, actually, you probably have heard Gamelan but you just haven’t seen it.
3. The creators drew from their lifelong musical inspiration to tell this story.
In the case of Director, Livi Zheng, she grew up in Indonesia and was quite inspired by U.S. pop culture. While Judith finds her roots and inspiration for bringing Balinese Gamelan to life remarkably through her upbringing on classic soul and funk.
A variety of culture alone in those other genres helped the team behind this great film capture the essence and richness of culture that is rooted in the “beats of Balinese paradise”.
4. The cast and crew put their literal sweat equity into this project.
On a tight timeline of two weeks to produce the music video that goes hand-in-hand with the documentary, they did the whole thing in the dead of summer.
With lots of water and breaks and manmade shade, they managed to produce a beautiful, non-sweaty music video that brings all of the hard work and preparation to that point from the documentary to life. Really breathtaking to put it lightly.
5. It's a refreshing film we haven't seen in some time.
There is a real depth of knowledge that the true star of the documentary, Nyoman Wenten has in the history of Gamelan music and Balinese music. You are consistently intrigued and I realize that there are so many nuances and intricacies to the art form.
Livi recalls a moment where they were in the studio and he was teaching her how to play it and it was definitely difficult but she learned so much from just that alone.
Bali: Beats of Paradise had its world premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA on Wednesday, November 7 to rave reviews and a true essence of unity electrified the audience.
The film hits theaters in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, November 16 followed by one night only screening events in select cities across the country. Be sure to follow them on Facebook for the latest news and updates on when and where the film will be playing in your city.