Bali Beats of Paradise celebrates the beauty of Bali and the cultural significance of Gamelan music (a traditional ensemble of mostly percussive instruments in Bali or Java in Indonesia) through the creative collaboration between Nyoman Wenten and Grammy Award-winning singer Judith Hill.
Prepare to be mesmerized by the culture and music of Bali! I watched this documentary with my whole family. My kids loved the film due to the music and dancing, this is a documentary that the is for everyone regardless of age.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview director Livi Zheng who is also the producer of documentary. I wanted to know what led her to direct the film Livi said “The Indonesian Consulate asked me to film a Balinese Gamelan concert. So, I said yes because I love filming, I love filmmaking, film is my first love. And when I arrived at the concert, it was a full house and I saw how the audience reacted to the music. And it really inspired me to make this a feature film and make it something bigger. And then, so basically after the concert, I edited it. And then once the concert coverage on YouTube and it got really good feedback, we got press from all over. Internationally, as well. And it got quite a lot of views in a short amount of time and I really felt like, at the time, I have to make this a feature film. So, then I started the documentary, we went to Bali, filmed in Bali and then after that, along the way, I met Judith.”
Livi also said that “In Bali, Gamelan is part of daily life. Even if you’re driving down the street, you’ll see a procession. When you’re born, when you become an adult, when you get married, even when you die, Gamelan is being played. So, it’s a big part of Balinese life and you can’t separate Gamelan from a Balinese life, actually. That was really cool to be able to, when I was doing the film, I was part of a wedding and we were part of a lot of ceremonies. And it was just like you know that if you’re Balinese, you can’t separate Gamelan in your life.”
If you all are not familiar with Judith Hill She has provided backing vocals for such artists as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Josh Groban. In 2009, Hill was chosen as Jackson’s duet partner for the song “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” during his This Is It concert tour. After Jackson’s death in 2009, she, along with the rest of the This Is Itcast members, performed at Jackson’s memorial service and attracted global attention when she sang the lead on the song “Heal the World“.
Her rise to fame is briefly recounted in 20 Feet from Stardom, a documentary film that tells the untold story of the backup singers behind some of the “greatest musical legends of the 21st century”. She is also a featured artist on the film’s soundtrack. She won the Grammy Award for Best Music Film for her performance in this film.
Judith joined the cast of Beats of Bali after she met Livi she was putting together this big show called The Golden Child. It’s a musical that basically brings culture together. She is a fan of Balinese Gamelan music and dance and was introduced to Livi by a mutual friend. Livi then told her about her documentary and how it was on Balinese music which is how Judith got on to the project and documentary.
One of the things I was very curious about was if people knew about Gamelan like they did about Bollywood, and if people thought they were similar. Livi said “Gamelan is Indonesian traditional music but Gamelan has influenced a lot of the pop culture. For example, do you know the film Avatar by James Cameron? It uses Gamelan. The Los Angeles Times wrote about this. And also, the TV show Star Trek used Gamelan, as well. The Nintendo game Mario Brothers also uses Gamelan. So, actually, you probably have heard Gamelan but you just haven’t seen it.”
The Golden Child
Beats of Bali will be showing in select theaters November 16th, I highly recommend watching the documentary as well as checking out Judith Hill show The Golden Child that is launching in December it’s funk and soul music but it’s infuses Bali music and infuses salsa and infuses some African drumming.
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