Where Heaven Meets Hell

Sasha Friedlander, Indonesia / USA, 2012, color, HDcam, 54'
Synopsis

The Kawah Ijen volcano on the Indonesian island of Java is a major tourist attraction and an important source of income for the local population. This active volcano is rich in sulfur, which can be used as a pigment and a preservative. Every day, hundreds of miners come and go, carrying baskets of yellow sulfur on their shoulders. The dense smoke coming from the volcano may be photogenic, but it also makes their work even more difficult. For a miner named Anto, the future of his little boy comes first. Lack of money meant Anto couldn't finish school, and that's why he depends on the volcano for his income. He knows all too well what tourists think about his workplace: "It looks like hell. But this is my life." Anto has big dreams, even if the chances of finding another job are slim. As soon as he learns to speak English or French, he'll be able to work in the tourist industry, and at night he practices using a grubby dictionary. But until he's ready, the mighty Kawah Ijen is the only way to a better life - if not for Anto, then for his son.

First Hand
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