Artistically, Sasha hopes to provide a window into a world that audiences would never have the opportunity to see. This film investigates the rarely seen process of sulfur mining, and explores the lives, labor, and hazards intrinsic to this vital industry. Though the volcanic backdrop is serenely beautiful, this film pulls no punches exposing the raw reality of life at Kawah Ijen. Its focus on character development at work and at home forges a strong empathic link for any viewing audience. Addressing the timely social issues of mining, endemic poverty, unaffordable education, inadequate health, and safety standards, this film also puts a human face on Muslims struggling to survive in rural Indonesia today. Universal family themes, dramatic cinematic splendor, humor, and emotional vulnerability all combine to help the film transcend cultural barriers.
Sulfur is used in the manufacture of sugar, matches, rubber, and cosmetics products. It has global relevance and international impact. These miners, who can barely afford their children’s education, and are exposed to serious health and safety issues daily, opened their lives and hearts to us. Sasha wants to do everything she can to make sure their stories are heard.
Sasha Friedlander, Producer/Director
Sasha Friedlander is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Sasha completed her BA from UCLA in 2007, and received her MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2011. After UCLA, Sasha received a Darmasiswa Fellowship to study at the Indonesian Art Institute in Bali. While in Indonesia, Sasha began an internship at Bali TV, and because of her fluency in the Indonesian language, was asked to join a team of journalists from the BBC and the Bali Post to launch the first edition of the International Bali Post. Inspired by a brief trip she took to Kawah Ijen crater in East Java in 2009, she returned to Indonesia a year later, to produce Where Heaven Meets Hell, her first feature documentary film. Where Heaven Meets Hell has won numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary Film and a Special Jury award for Outstanding Cinematography at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Hawaii International Film Festival. At the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the Václav Havel Jury gave a Special Mention Award to the film for being a documentary that has made an exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights. The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) awarded Friedlander with an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry at the Salem Film Festival in March 2013.
Bao Nguyen, Co-Producer
Bao Nguyen is an emerging photographer and filmmaker whose clients have included The New York Times, Rolling Stone, MTV, Vogue, HBO, ARTE, PBS, among many others.
He has directed, produced, and shot a number of short films, which have played internationally in numerous festivals and museums including MoMA PS1 and the Smithsonian. His graduate thesis film, Julian, won a CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Best Student Documentary Short at the Palm Springs ShortsFest, the Special Jury Prize at DOCNYC, and was nominated for an IDA Award.
The first feature he produced, Once in a Lullaby, made its world premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, won the Audience Award at Woodstock, and was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award. He is producing his first feature narrative, 2030, a futuristic film set in Vietnam after the impact of climate change. It won the 2013 Tribeca Sloan Filmmaker Award. He is also directing his first feature documentary about the Vietnamese LGBT community and the pending same sex marriage legislation in Vietnam.
He is a 2011 PBS/WGBH Producers Workshop Fellow and an alumnus of the 2012 Berlinale Talent Campus. He earned his BA in Politics/International Relations at NYU and his MFA in Social Documentary Film at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is based in Saigon.