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Cornell Cinema: Grit - An Environmental Film w/Maker Cynthia Wade in person

Grit

When Dian was 6 years old, a tsunami of mud buried her village along with fifteen others in East Java, Indonesia, in one of the largest environmental disasters in recent history. Over a decade later, 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area. Dozens of factories, schools and mosques are submerged 60 feet under a moonscape of cracked mud.

The majority of international scientists believe that Lapindo, a multinational company that was drilling for natural gas in 2006, accidentally struck an underground mud volcano and unleashed a violent flow of hot sludge from the earth's depths. Ten years later, despite initial assurances to do so, Lapindo has not provided 80% of its promised reparations to the hundreds of victims of who lost everything in the mud explosion. While the survivors live in the shadow of the mudflow and wait for restitution, they live in makeshift rented homes next to levees that hold back the compounding mud. With old job sites—factories, offices—buried deep, the victims have turned the disaster site into a popular tourist destination.

Dian’s mother, widowed within a year of the explosion, has reinvented herself as an unofficial mudflow tour guide in order to make ends meet. She spends her days guiding curious Indonesians across the wasteland so the tourists can snap photos of the boiling muck and thick steam that continue to spurt violently into the sky. The vast lunar landscape is littered with bizarre activities: fashion photographers take stylish photos of models posing in ball gowns; vendors sell selfie sticks, DVDs and meatballs; protesters smear mud over their bodies in stubborn acts of resistance.

Dian is determined to rise out of the muddy life. She and her mother, along with many neighbors, fight against the corporate powers accused of the disaster. The film bears witness to Dian’s transformation into a politically active teenager as she questions the role of corporate power and money in the institution of democracy itself.

Cosponsored with the Southeast Asia Program, the Society for the Humanities and Performing & Media Arts.

More info & trailer at: https://cinema.cornell.edu/grit 

Cynthia Wade’s 2008 documentary Freeheld won a 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and 13 other awards. She was a lead producer on the 2015 fictionalized adaptation of Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. Wade’s 2013 HBO documentary Mondays at Racine was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. She is the director of the documentaries Grist for the Mill (1999, HBO), Shelter Dogs (2004, HBO), Born Sweet (2009), Living the Legacy (2009, Sundance Channel) and Generation Startup (2016, Netflix), and producer of The Gnomist (2015, CNN). She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University. Wade has won more than 45 film awards worldwide.