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From the Afflictions: Culture and Mental Illness in Indonesia series
by Robert Lemelson
color, 25 min, 2011
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Ritual Burdens is part of the Afflictions: Culture & Mental Illness in Indonesia series of ethnographic films on severe mental illness in Indonesia, based on material drawn from 12 years of person-centered research by director and anthropologist Robert Lemelson.
The film focuses on Ni Ketut Kasih who has lived her whole life surrounded by the complex rhythms of the Balinese ritual calendar. Here, participation in ritual events is both a spiritual mandate and social obligation for women who spend countless hours crafting offerings. Ni Ketut's masterful hand has contributed to her status as a highly respected ceremonial leader. However, the pressures of ritual requirements often overwhelm her, crowding her mind with memories of her difficult childhood during Indonesia's war for independence. This may trigger Ketut's bi-polar disorder episodes, for which she has been hospitalized over 35 times. Ni Ketut's case reveals the binding associations that may make certain burdens unbearable as cultural obligations, traumatic historical events, and personal experience overlap in unique schemas of stress that trigger cyclical episodes of mental illness.
This film is also available as part of the set Afflictions Volume 2: Neuropsychiatric Disorders.
Study guide (PDF)
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Winner, Bronze Award for Short Documentary, Prestige Film Awards, 2012
Awareness Film Festival, USA, 2012
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