RING OF FIRE:
AN INDONESIAN ODYSSEY
Myths, magic & monsters
A series of four one-hour adventure documentaries written and presented by Dr. Lawrence Blair (of Myths Monsters and Hobbits) – an explorer/anthropologist who is a long-time resident and expert on Indonesia. The series is a startling weave of vivid high definition contemporary film, rare historical footage of trance and tribal rites, together with linking animation. They are true fairy stories, for children of all ages, as well as real adventures, shot under duress, in often hazardous circumstances, which still manage to bear witness to a number of creatures and human events never previously filmed or even seen before.
ISLAND OF THE DOGS
Viewing downloads of Island of the Dogs are available here.
A 55 minute, wide-screen HD documentary for international television.
A film about the semi-feral dogs of Bali, and our changing attitudes towards conquering nature and bending her to our will.
The term ‘Island of the Gods’ was coined by the first outside visitors to rediscover Bali in the l920’s and ’30’s (Charlie Chaplin, Margaret Meade, Noel Coward etc.). The term was happily adopted by the tourist industry decades later. But it’s only half true, for Bali is equally an Island of the Demons, and the dogs embody the Dark Side.
Bali’s dogs are not as other dogs. For ten centuries and more they have lived not just outside the homes, but beyond the village walls in semi feral packs: diseased and scavenging. Six hundred thousand of them, one to every five people, roamed the island: a law unto themselves. They are traditionally sacrificed at certain ceremonies, are ritually eaten, and appear throughout the island iconography as the lowest of the low. And to the nascent tourist industry, they are an open wound in the island paradise. Thus Bali’s dogs were used to getting the raw end of the stick by the time rabies reached the island in 2008, and the government responded with a ferocious campaign to kill them ALL in order to kill the disease.
Over a two-year period, 150,000 dogs were massacred, and more than a 100 humans had died of rabies, yet the disease continued to spread. The authorities remained impervious to the logic of World Health Organization experts on rabies, who pointed out that culling 70% of the dogs was the only solution, and that attempting to kill them all had never worked, anywhere in the world. At this point the world’s experts on genetics, at UC Davies, California, pointed out that the reviled dogs of Bali are the richest gene pool of genetic diversity in all of dogdom, and can trace their ancestry right back to the proto dogs, whereas all our ‘breed’ dogs are barely a couple of centuries old.
The film’s locations include Bali, Australia and the United States, and features interviews with Balinese high priests on the ancient roles of dogs and man, current world experts on dog genetics, ecology and rabies control, and owners of the remarkable dogs which, largely unrecognized, have such high scientific value and yet face immanent extinction. We ask the question: if we can’t get on with the dog, our closest of natural companions, what hope have we with nature herself?
Through the dogs of Bali this film simultaneously explores the clash of cultures and traditions, and the shifting relationship between man and nature, everywhere, in this changing world.