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Peasants in the Philippines have worked this land for generations, but developers want to turn this seaside community into a four course golf and tourist resort. (~800 KB)
At a rebel camp, Matt DeVries and Jen Schradie interview the spokesperson for the New People's Army in the Philippines jungle. The NPA has sided with peasants fighting golf courses. (~300 KB)
Peasant women in the Philipppines have formed human barricades to stop bulldozers from destroying their ancestral land for golf courses. (~400 KB)
Hacienda Looc resident and opponent of the development Visitacion Darean rides his caribou. Developers plan to build a marina and villas where his family home now stands. (~400 KB)
Matt DeVries and Jen Schradie interview farmer Guillermo Bautista in his rice field that would be flooded for a proposed yatch marina. Residents of the Hacienda Looc joined the crew, including this high school student holding a light reflector. (~450 KB)
Visitacion Darean and his caribou look on as co-director Matt DeVries shoots in the fields of Hacienda Looc. (~600 KB)
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The Golf War marks debut of new documentary team
DURHAM, NC (Oct. 8)-When Jen Schradie went to the Philippines in theFall of 1997, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Having left behinda secure job with a state government agency, she was going to make adocumentary exposing the abuses in sweatshops in the Southeast Asiancountry.
Like so many other documentaries, the topic changed before shooting evenbegan.
Schradie spent her first month in the Philippines traveling around thecountry with an armed unit of the New People's Army, a guerrillamovement that's been fighting a civil war with the government for morethan three decades. And while the guerrillas hated the sweatshops, there was anissue they felt was far more critical: land reform. The government wasforcing peasants off their land, so they had no choice but to move tourban areas and get jobs making tennis shoes and clothing for less than$5 a day.
By the time videographer Matt DeVries joined Schradie in the Philippinesin December 1997, they had decided to travel to a seaside communitycalled Hacienda Looc. The peasants in this village were fighting a largedeveloper, and the government wanted to evict the peasants from the landto build a golf and tourist resort.
But the story did not stop there. The rebel NPA got involved afterpeasant activists were killed. And then Tiger Woods came to thePhilippines to promote golf in the country.
The result is Schradie and DeVries' first collaboration, a 40-minutedocumentary called "The Golf War."
"We wanted to reach today's audience that's used to clicking theremote," Schradie said. "So we made it shorter than a feature and used asatirical treatment that's more entertaining than a typical politicaldocumentary."
"The Golf War" marks the first large-scale partnership for Schradie andDeVries, who met while working on documentaries at The EmpowermentProject, a non-profit video production center run by the Oscar-winningdocumentary team of Barbara Trent and David Kasper. DeVries worked atE.P. as Post Production Facility Manager and was introduced to Schradiein 1995 while she was working with Kasper to edit her documentary short,"The Fruit of Labor."
At the time, Schradie was working full-time at the North CarolinaDepartment of Administration in the Agency for PublicTelecommunications, where she did everything from operating TV camerasfor videoconferences and dubbing tapes to working on production crewsfor field shoots. She also wrote, produced and directed public serviceannouncements and videos for the agency, including a video for the NCState Board of Elections that won an International TelevisionAssociation Silver Reel of Excellence.
But after three years at APT, Schradie was looking for inspiration and anew challenge, and one that would let her travel. During the summer of1997 Schradie started searching on the Internet for a conduit to get tothe Philippines, whose grassroots political movement had always intriguedher. She found Pesante, a Los Angeles-based solidarity organization forland reform in the Philippines.
Pesante agreed to make the necessary contacts to introduce her toactivists in the Philippines, so Schradie decided she would make adocumentary. She contacted DeVries to see if he was interested inworking on the project. By then DeVries was working as an editor for theUNC Center for Public Television in the Research Triangle Park. DeVriesagreed, bought a digital camera and headed to the Philippines.
Schradie and DeVries shot the entire documentary on a mini-DV format --a Sony VX-1000. The compact digital package allowed them to shoot as atwo-person crew which was invaluable to their security. They could packthe gear into their backpacks and travel like tourists. And theequipment was light enough to carry while hiking through the Philippinejungle with the armed guerrilla army.
From December 1997 to January 1998 the pair shot the footage for "TheGolf War." It wasn't difficult to persuade the villagers to tell theirpersonal stories. Schradie and DeVries also found themselves on midnighttreks with a guerrilla army through rice paddies to interview an NPAspokesman. And on the final day in the Philippines, they foundthemselves making it into a promotional golf tournament featuring TigerWoods and his father, both of whom they interviewed and found to beunaware of the havoc the game they loved was causing.
Despite all the hardships, the pairing of their respective talentsultimately proved a good fit. Schradie served as producer, director anddid location sound. DeVries co-directed the piece and oversaw theshooting and editing, and they both wrote the script. The team came totheir careers as documentarians from different routes.
Schradie, 32, grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where her parents worked at theUniversity of Toledo. She attended Duke University and graduated in1989. She spent several years working as an organizer for the NorthCarolina Student Rural Health Coalition, which supports African-Americancommunities in the eastern part of the state in their fight for justicein health care. Schradie also spent three years trying to organizeworkers at Food Lion grocery stores. In her spare time, she haddeveloped an interest in documentaries, shooting her first video, "ToxicTerrorism: The Shiloh Coalition Fights Back" in 1989-90. This piece isabout a North Carolina rural African-American community fighting a corporation that had putthem at the top of the state's Superfund list for PCP contamination intheir drinking water.
DeVries, 27, grew up in Greensboro, NC. His father was an occupationalpsychologist and his mother a social worker. He graduated in 1994 fromthe College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he produced his first documentary. Shortly after graduating, DeVries joined the EmpowermentProject. DeVries is now at UNC-TV, where he has served as associateproducer, videotape editor and Web projects manager.
The film premiere of The Golf War is at the Laemmle Theaters October8-14 in Los Angeles.
The screening at the Laemmle Theaters is part of Schradie's and DeVries'national grassroots tour. While they hope to get the documentarybroadcast, that's not their main goal. Their main focus is distributingcopies to community, religious, labor and student organizations, so it can be seenby the widest audience possible.
"Documentaries need to get off of their pedestals and into the streets.People all over the world, including the U.S., are facing displacementfor development projects," Schradie said. "We hope to reach those peoplewho are facing their own version of 'The Golf War.'"
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