An insight into Indonesia's unstoppable mud explosion
When Dian was six she narrowly escaped a tsunami of boiling mud that completely submerged 16 villages under a moonscape of grit, leaving 60,000 people displaced. Lapindo, an Indonesian drilling company, had unleashed a violent, unstoppable flow from the earth's depths, estimated to continue for another decade. Shot over six years, GRIT witnesses Dian's transformation in to a politically active teen, as she and her mother take on the perpetrators.
A decade later, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area in East Java, located just 20 kilometers from Indonesia’s second largest city. 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 buried deep, the victims have turned the disaster site into a popular tourist destination. Dian’s mother, for example, who was 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.
Yet Dian is determined to rise out of the muddy life. Together with her mother and many of their neighbours, they fight the commercial powers accused of this colossal environmental disaster. Grit 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.
Reviews and More
“Grit is sure to the the great eco doc of Hot Docs 2018 and the year overall.” – POV Magazine
For a Q&A with directors Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander, see here.
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