Balinese fall out of love with Balinese fall out of love with Hollywood

THE Balinese are proud that the third element in the title of the hugely popular book Eat, Pray, Love refers to their island, and are happy to host Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts for the film version, but they say the “love” must come at a fair price.

The royal prince of Ubud, and chief of Ubud Village, Tjok Raka Kertiyasa, has been forced to step in to ease friction amid claims some locals were paid more than others for use of their land for the film, which Pitt is producing, with Roberts starring as Elizabeth George, author of the memoir.

“Villagers do not understand why some people are getting paid more than the entire village, which has so far been given 10million rupiah ($1134) collectively,” Tjok Raka said.

Hundreds of villagers are being used as extras, each paid up to 1 million rupiah. Columbia Pictures beefed up security this month after protests over pay and disruptions by the film crew.

“It’s about rights, not greediness,” Tjok Rata said. “As the head of the community, I have been invited to share my wisdom with both sides, not just with the community.

“This is a social case, not legal. You need a strategy to find a win-win situation and explain the positive and negative impact, with good communication and transparency.”

Three community meetings have been held to explain scheduling, security and the number of cars and trucks needed for equipment and crew.

Villagers are allowed to watch filming but they remain upset at demands “to be quiet and stop everything they’re doing” while the cameras roll.

“They (locals) support the film because they know there’s a positive impact for the island, which relies economically on tourism,” Tjok Rata said. “We are proud of Bali being chosen for the film. It’s good thing. It promotes tourism and gives people jobs and experience.”

He denied the dispute had delayed the film, which is scheduled to finish next month, after shoots in eight Ubud villages, along with Uluwatu and Jimbaran. Scenes were also shot in New York and Italy, where the eating in the title takes place, and India, source of the prayers.

The film had to be approved by five tiers of Indonesian government, from Jakarta to Bali.

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