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Jen Schradie

anthill productions presents The Golf War

A documentary about golf, greedy developers and revolution in the Philippines.

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's promotional 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 or death."

What Tiger and his father didn't know was that 100 miles away in the seaside village of Hacienda Looc, golf may have indeed become a game of life and death. The Filipino government has teamed up with the powerful development company, Fil-Estate, to try and turn Hacienda Looc into one of the Philippines' largest golf and tourist resorts. To do that, they must first evict more than 7,500 peasants who live on land that has been farmed by their families for generations.

The peasants have organized to stop the development, but their efforts to resist have been met with increased violence. So far, three peasants who opposed the development have been killed, according to newspaper and peasant reports. The New Peoples Army, a rebel army that has been fighting for land reform, has threatened to intervene if the killings don't stop.

Directors Jen Schradie and Matt DeVries have captured this combustible mix in their documentary, "The Golf War." The 40-minute documentary makes its film premiere at the Laemmle Theater October 8-14 in Los Angeles.

The work-in-progress version of "The Golf War" made a splash in the international media in June. Outlets that ranged from the Associated Press to the Guardian out of London reported on the screening that took place in the midst of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Southern Pines, NC. After the critically-acclaimed documentary's first screening of the work-in-progress, the Los Angeles Times called the documentary "potent" and said: "Schradie and DeVries have a ...bombshell of an expose on their hands that could stand as Exhibit A in the argument for the motion picture academy to retain its short documentary category in the Oscars."

And Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International Network of Philippine Studies wrote, "The film is unique and well crafted, enlightening and entertaining. It succeeds as social satire. It rises above previous documentary films on the land problem."

DeVries and Schradie hope to take the powerful story of the Filipino peasants to a wider audience than traditional documentary viewers. "I think when people see this, they'll understand that the West's idea of progress and development doesn't make sense for these folks," Schradie said. "They'd much rather continue with a way of life that has existed for hundreds of years than be kicked off their land so they can get jobs as caddies or prostitutes."

The documentary was shot in late 1997 and early 1998 after Schradie had spent a month traveling with an armed unit of the New Peoples Army. The NPA has been fighting a civil war against the Filipino government for three decades and has succeeded in organizing peasants in pockets of NPA controlled guerrilla zones around the country.

She was joined in the Philippines by Videographer Matt DeVries in December 1997 and together they traveled to the small fishing and farming community of Hacienda Looc. There they discovered people who were content with a way of life that was simple and peaceful.

But the government has decided it would be a shame not to share their scenic land with golfers and tourists from around the globe. Fil-Estate, a large real-estate developer, has plans to build a golfing community that would include four golf courses, including one designed by Jack Nicholas, and a vast array of hotels, homes and a yacht marina, all set on a picturesque bay. But first, the developer must get the peasants' land. So it has teamed up with the Filipino government and the military to force the peasants off their land.

The village has responded by organizing to fight back. A group of women has taken to the hills to form a human chain to block bulldozers from entering. The villagers have banded together to create Umalpas-Ka, a group that is pressing for the villagers' legal rights to the land. And when three peasants resisting the development were killed, the NPA threatened to retaliate against the developer unless the violence stopped. While telling the dramatic story of the peasants' fight, the movie contrasts the happy, carefree vision of the golf lifestyle being promoted by people such as Tiger Woods with the devastation it is causing just miles down the road. This is the government's dream: To build a place that would attract more of the rich and famous like Tiger and his father. The Filipino kids working at Tiger's tournament look good in their golf shirts, but one offered that he can not actually afford to play the game that is supposed to be the salvation of their country.

The documentary was made from scores of individual contributions through their fiscal sponsor, the IMAGE Film and Video Center, based in Atlanta and the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, NC. Distribution is made possible by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Puffin Foundation and the Durham Arts Council, with support from the NC Arts Council, a state agency. "The Golf War" is the first production released by anthill productions, which is based in Durham, NC.

The film premiere in Los Angeles at the Laemmle is the culmination of a two year collaboration that has produced a dramatic, moving and sometimes 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 of rich golfers and poor, helpless peasants," DeVries said. "They're fighting back."
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