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anthill productions presents The Golf War
A documentary about golf, greedy developers and revolution in thePhilippines.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Oct. 8) Earl Woods, father of famed golfer Tiger,looked out at the adoring crowd who had come to see his son'spromotional round of golf in the Philippines and said into a microphone,"Have fun. Golf is a game. It's spelled g-a-m-e. It's not life ordeath."
What Tiger and his father didn't know was that 100 miles away in theseaside village of Hacienda Looc, golf may have indeed become a game oflife and death. The Filipino government has teamed up with the powerfuldevelopment company, Fil-Estate, to try and turn Hacienda Looc into oneof the Philippines' largest golf and tourist resorts. To do that, theymust first evict more than 7,500 peasants who live on land that has beenfarmed by their families for generations.
The peasants have organized to stop the development, but their effortsto resist have been met with increased violence. So far, three peasantswho opposed the development have been killed, according to newspaper andpeasant reports. The New Peoples Army, a rebel army that has beenfighting for land reform, has threatened to intervene if the killingsdon't stop.
Directors Jen Schradie and Matt DeVries have captured this combustiblemix in their documentary, "The Golf War." The 40-minute documentarymakes its film premiere at the Laemmle Theater October 8-14 in LosAngeles.
The work-in-progress version of "The Golf War" made a splash in theinternational media in June. Outlets that ranged from the AssociatedPress to the Guardian out of London reported on the screening that tookplace in the midst of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Southern Pines, NC.After the critically-acclaimed documentary's first screening of thework-in-progress, the Los Angeles Times called the documentary "potent"and said: "Schradie and DeVries have a ...bombshell of an expose ontheir hands that could stand as Exhibit A in the argument for the motionpicture academy to retain its short documentary category in the Oscars."
And Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International Network ofPhilippine Studies wrote, "The film is unique and well crafted,enlightening and entertaining. It succeeds as social satire. It risesabove previous documentary films on the land problem."
DeVries and Schradie hope to take the powerful story of the Filipinopeasants to a wider audience than traditional documentary viewers. "Ithink when people see this, they'll understand that the West's idea of progress and development doesn't make sense for these folks," Schradiesaid. "They'd much rather continue with a way of life that has existedfor hundreds of years than be kicked off their land so they can get jobsas caddies or prostitutes."
The documentary was shot in late 1997 and early 1998 after Schradie hadspent a month traveling with an armed unit of the New Peoples Army. TheNPA has been fighting a civil war against the Filipino government forthree decades and has succeeded in organizing peasants in pockets of NPAcontrolled guerrilla zones around the country.
She was joined in the Philippines by Videographer Matt DeVries inDecember 1997 and together they traveled to the small fishing andfarming community of Hacienda Looc. There they discovered people whowere content with a way of life that was simple and peaceful.
But the government has decided it would be a shame not to share theirscenic land with golfers and tourists from around the globe. Fil-Estate,a large real-estate developer, has plans to build a golfing communitythat would include four golf courses, including one designed by JackNicholas, and a vast array of hotels, homes and a yacht marina, all seton a picturesque bay. But first, the developer must get the peasants'land. So it has teamed up with the Filipino government and the militaryto force the peasants off their land.
The village has responded by organizing to fight back. A group of womenhas taken to the hills to form a human chain to block bulldozers fromentering. The villagers have banded together to create Umalpas-Ka, agroup that is pressing for the villagers' legal rights to the land. Andwhen three peasants resisting the development were killed, the NPAthreatened to retaliate against the developer unless the violencestopped. While telling the dramatic story of the peasants' fight, themovie contrasts the happy, carefree vision of the golf lifestyle beingpromoted by people such as Tiger Woods with the devastation it iscausing just miles down the road. This is the government's dream: To build a place that wouldattract more of the rich and famous like Tiger and his father. TheFilipino kids working at Tiger's tournament look good in their golfshirts, but one offered that he can not actually afford to play the game that issupposed to be the salvation of their country.
The documentary was made from scores of individual contributions throughtheir fiscal sponsor, the IMAGE Film and Video Center, based in Atlantaand the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, NC. Distribution ismade possible by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Puffin Foundation andthe Durham Arts Council, with support from the NC Arts Council, a stateagency. "The Golf War" is the first production released by anthillproductions, which is based in Durham, NC.
The film premiere in Los Angeles at the Laemmle is the culmination of atwo year collaboration that has produced a dramatic, moving andsometimes funny tale.
"While we'd like people to be entertained with the political satire,we'd also like them to understand that this isn't just a trite tale ofrich golfers and poor, helpless peasants," DeVries said. "They'refighting back."