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anthill productions presents The Golf War
A documentary about golf, greedy developers and revolution in the
LOS ANGELES, CA (Oct. 8) Earl Woods, father of famed golfer Tiger,
looked out at the adoring crowd who had come to see his son's
promotional round of golf in the Philippines and said into a microphone,
"Have fun. Golf is a game. It's spelled g-a-m-e. It's not life or
What Tiger and his father didn't know was that 100 miles away in the
seaside village of Hacienda Looc, golf may have indeed become a game of
life and death. The Filipino government has teamed up with the powerful
development company, Fil-Estate, to try and turn Hacienda Looc into one
of the Philippines' largest golf and tourist resorts. To do that, they
must first evict more than 7,500 peasants who live on land that has been
farmed by their families for generations.
The peasants have organized to stop the development, but their efforts
to resist have been met with increased violence. So far, three peasants
who opposed the development have been killed, according to newspaper and
peasant reports. The New Peoples Army, a rebel army that has been
fighting for land reform, has threatened to intervene if the killings
Directors Jen Schradie and Matt DeVries have captured this combustible
mix in their documentary, "The Golf War." The 40-minute documentary
makes its film premiere at the Laemmle Theater October 8-14 in Los
The work-in-progress version of "The Golf War" made a splash in the
international media in June. Outlets that ranged from the Associated
Press to the Guardian out of London reported on the screening that took
the midst of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Southern Pines, NC.
After the critically-acclaimed documentary's first screening of the
work-in-progress, the Los Angeles Times called the documentary "potent"
and said: "Schradie and DeVries have a ...bombshell of an expose on
their hands that could stand as Exhibit A in the argument for the motion
picture academy to retain its short documentary category in the Oscars."
And Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International Network of
Philippine Studies wrote, "The film is unique and well crafted,
enlightening and entertaining. It succeeds as social satire. It rises
documentary films on the land problem."
DeVries and Schradie hope to take the powerful story of the Filipino
peasants to a wider audience than traditional documentary viewers. "I
think when people see this, they'll understand that the West's idea of
progress and development doesn't make sense for these folks," Schradie
said. "They'd much rather continue with a way of life that has existed
for hundreds of years than be kicked off their land so they can get jobs
caddies or prostitutes."
The documentary was shot in late 1997 and early 1998 after Schradie had
spent a month traveling with an armed unit of the New Peoples Army. The
NPA has been fighting a civil war against the Filipino government for
decades and has succeeded in organizing peasants in pockets of NPA
controlled guerrilla zones around the country.
She was joined in the Philippines by Videographer Matt DeVries in
December 1997 and together they traveled to the small fishing and
farming community of Hacienda Looc. There they discovered people who
were content with a way of life that was simple and peaceful.
But the government has decided it would be a shame not to share their
scenic land with golfers and tourists from around the globe. Fil-Estate,
a large real-estate developer, has plans to build a golfing community
that would include four golf courses, including one designed by Jack
Nicholas, and a vast array of hotels, homes and a yacht marina, all set
on a picturesque bay. But first, the developer must get the peasants'
land. So it has teamed up with the Filipino government and the military
to force the peasants off their land.
The village has responded by organizing to fight back. A group of women
has taken to the hills to form a human chain to block bulldozers from
entering. The villagers have banded together to create Umalpas-Ka, a
group that is pressing for the villagers' legal rights to the land. And
when three peasants resisting the development were killed, the NPA
threatened to retaliate against the developer unless the violence
stopped. While telling the dramatic story of the peasants' fight, the
movie contrasts the happy, carefree vision of the golf lifestyle being
promoted by people such as Tiger Woods with the devastation it is
causing just miles down the
road. This is the government's dream: To build a place that would
attract more of the rich and famous like Tiger and his father. The
Filipino kids working at Tiger's tournament look good in their golf
shirts, but one
offered that he can not actually afford to play the game that is
supposed to be the salvation of their country.
The documentary was made from scores of individual contributions through
their fiscal sponsor, the IMAGE Film and Video Center, based in Atlanta
and the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, NC. Distribution is
possible by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Puffin Foundation and
the Durham Arts Council, with support from the NC Arts Council, a state
agency. "The Golf War" is the first production released by anthill
productions, which is based in Durham, NC.
The film premiere in Los Angeles at the Laemmle is the culmination of a
two year collaboration that has produced a dramatic, moving and
sometimes funny tale.
"While we'd like people to be entertained with the political satire,
we'd also like them to understand that this isn't just a trite tale of
rich golfers and poor, helpless peasants," DeVries said. "They're