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[field photo]
Peasants in the Philippines have worked this land for generations, but developers want to turn this seaside community into a four course golf and tourist resort. (~800 KB)
[rebel photo]
At a rebel camp, Matt DeVries and Jen Schradie interview the spokesperson for the New People's Army in the Philippines jungle. The NPA has sided with peasants fighting golf courses. (~300 KB)
[women photo]
Peasant women in the Philipppines have formed human barricades to stop bulldozers from destroying their ancestral land for golf courses. (~400 KB)
[caribou photo]
Hacienda Looc resident and opponent of the development Visitacion Darean rides his caribou. Developers plan to build a marina and villas where his family home now stands. (~400 KB)
[crew photo]
Matt DeVries and Jen Schradie interview farmer Guillermo Bautista in his rice field that would be flooded for a proposed yatch marina. Residents of the Hacienda Looc joined the crew, including this high school student holding a light reflector. (~450 KB)
[caribou/camera photo]
Visitacion Darean and his caribou look on as co-director Matt DeVries shoots in the fields of Hacienda Looc. (~600 KB)

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Jen Schradie

The Golf War marks debut of new documentary team

DURHAM, NC (Oct. 8)-When Jen Schradie went to the Philippines in the Fall of 1997, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Having left behind a secure job with a state government agency, she was going to make a documentary exposing the abuses in sweatshops in the Southeast Asian country.

Like so many other documentaries, the topic changed before shooting even began.

Schradie spent her first month in the Philippines traveling around the country with an armed unit of the New People's Army, a guerrilla movement that's been fighting a civil war with the government for more than three decades. And while the guerrillas hated the sweatshops, there was an issue they felt was far more critical: land reform. The government was forcing peasants off their land, so they had no choice but to move to urban areas and get jobs making tennis shoes and clothing for less than $5 a day.

By the time videographer Matt DeVries joined Schradie in the Philippines in December 1997, they had decided to travel to a seaside community called Hacienda Looc. The peasants in this village were fighting a large developer, and the government wanted to evict the peasants from the land to build a golf and tourist resort.

But the story did not stop there. The rebel NPA got involved after peasant activists were killed. And then Tiger Woods came to the Philippines to promote golf in the country.

The result is Schradie and DeVries' first collaboration, a 40-minute documentary called "The Golf War."

"We wanted to reach today's audience that's used to clicking the remote," Schradie said. "So we made it shorter than a feature and used a satirical treatment that's more entertaining than a typical political documentary."

"The Golf War" marks the first large-scale partnership for Schradie and DeVries, who met while working on documentaries at The Empowerment Project, a non-profit video production center run by the Oscar-winning documentary team of Barbara Trent and David Kasper. DeVries worked at E.P. as Post Production Facility Manager and was introduced to Schradie in 1995 while she was working with Kasper to edit her documentary short, "The Fruit of Labor."

At the time, Schradie was working full-time at the North Carolina Department of Administration in the Agency for Public Telecommunications, where she did everything from operating TV cameras for videoconferences and dubbing tapes to working on production crews for field shoots. She also wrote, produced and directed public service announcements and videos for the agency, including a video for the NC State Board of Elections that won an International Television Association Silver Reel of Excellence.

But after three years at APT, Schradie was looking for inspiration and a new challenge, and one that would let her travel. During the summer of 1997 Schradie started searching on the Internet for a conduit to get to the Philippines, whose grassroots political movement had always intrigued her. She found Pesante, a Los Angeles-based solidarity organization for land reform in the Philippines.

Pesante agreed to make the necessary contacts to introduce her to activists in the Philippines, so Schradie decided she would make a documentary. She contacted DeVries to see if he was interested in working on the project. By then DeVries was working as an editor for the UNC Center for Public Television in the Research Triangle Park. DeVries agreed, bought a digital camera and headed to the Philippines.

Schradie and DeVries shot the entire documentary on a mini-DV format -- a Sony VX-1000. The compact digital package allowed them to shoot as a two-person crew which was invaluable to their security. They could pack the gear into their backpacks and travel like tourists. And the equipment was light enough to carry while hiking through the Philippine jungle with the armed guerrilla army.

From December 1997 to January 1998 the pair shot the footage for "The Golf War." It wasn't difficult to persuade the villagers to tell their personal stories. Schradie and DeVries also found themselves on midnight treks with a guerrilla army through rice paddies to interview an NPA spokesman. And on the final day in the Philippines, they found themselves making it into a promotional golf tournament featuring Tiger Woods and his father, both of whom they interviewed and found to be unaware of the havoc the game they loved was causing.

Despite all the hardships, the pairing of their respective talents ultimately proved a good fit. Schradie served as producer, director and did location sound. DeVries co-directed the piece and oversaw the shooting and editing, and they both wrote the script. The team came to their careers as documentarians from different routes.

Schradie, 32, grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where her parents worked at the University of Toledo. She attended Duke University and graduated in 1989. She spent several years working as an organizer for the North Carolina Student Rural Health Coalition, which supports African-American communities in the eastern part of the state in their fight for justice in health care. Schradie also spent three years trying to organize workers at Food Lion grocery stores. In her spare time, she had developed an interest in documentaries, shooting her first video, "Toxic Terrorism: The Shiloh Coalition Fights Back" in 1989-90. This piece is about a North Carolina rural African-American community fighting a corporation that had put them at the top of the state's Superfund list for PCP contamination in their drinking water.

DeVries, 27, grew up in Greensboro, NC. His father was an occupational psychologist and his mother a social worker. He graduated in 1994 from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he produced his first documentary. Shortly after graduating, DeVries joined the Empowerment Project. DeVries is now at UNC-TV, where he has served as associate producer, videotape editor and Web projects manager.

The film premiere of The Golf War is at the Laemmle Theaters October 8-14 in Los Angeles.

The screening at the Laemmle Theaters is part of Schradie's and DeVries' national grassroots tour. While they hope to get the documentary broadcast, that's not their main goal. Their main focus is distributing copies to community, religious, labor and student organizations, so it can be seen by the widest audience possible.

"Documentaries need to get off of their pedestals and into the streets. People all over the world, including the U.S., are facing displacement for development projects," Schradie said. "We hope to reach those people who are facing their own version of 'The Golf War.'"
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