As reported by balidiscovery.com the commencement of filming of the major Hollywood film “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem got off to a less than smooth start as Balinese villagers demanded extra compensation to allow the film to proceed. Radar Bali reports that Bali’s governor, Made Mangku Pastika, was not pleased with what appears to be coercive efforts to extract additional fees from Sony Picture/Columbia Pictures.
The governor told the press that the villagers’ opportunistic behavior was embarrassing for the people of Bali and not in keeping with the many honors and accolades earned by the island known as a “paradise on earth.”
According to governor Pastika, a central theme of the film depicts Bali as “an island of love.” As indicated by the title, its main character portrayed by Julia Roberts explores the pleasure of eating in Italy; the serenity of prayer in India, and the joys of love in Bali. Speaking from him home on October 18, 2009, Pastika said: “Love in Bali is a new branding joining earlier citations, such as the island of paradise, the island of the gods, and the island of peace and democracy. How beautiful is Bali and love sowed in Bali. This is proven by the increasing number of people who have their weddings performed in Bali.”
In this context, Pastika hopes that all parties in Bali, including its elders and leaders, take the necessary steps to preserve this reputation. Admitting that waves of change, both good and bad, were sweeping over the island, he added, “(the changes) must be anticipated so that Bali’s good reputation is preserved.”
Strong Words of Criticism
Viewing both the positive and negative forces at play on the island, Pastika has also seen the impact being made on the character of the Balinese people and the resulting trends of commercialism and consumerism. One proof cited by the Governor, was the case of the villagers asking for hundreds of millions of rupiah from the makers of the “Eat, Pray, Love, film. Making his point in the strongest possible terms, Pastika said: “To the extent that they asked for hundreds of millions of rupiah – using tradition, culture and religion as the foundation for their demands, I deeply regret that this condition has invaded into the character of the people of Bali. This is one more rapid change (in our society) with a negative effect on our people.”
Moreover, Pastika said such behavior he found embarrassing as the news of the villagers behavior will be publicized the world over. Pastika continued: “When I heard this I was ashamed. How can a traditional village ask for hundreds of millions (of rupiah)? This film will be seen by the world, indirectly also showing Bali to the world.”
Shortly after the villagers of Bentuyung village demanded Rp. 200 million (US$ 20,000) from the filmmakers, the villagers of Pengosekan – another location in the film, have followed suit and are now requesting compensation.