Thu, 04 Dec 2003

TV series to show world through child's eye

Rita A.Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

A child's view is probably the most honest perception we can believe in. Through the eyes of the innocents, one might learn a lot about diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles of people around the world, including the Balinese.

In the summer of 2004, London-based Rooftop Productions plans to film the Balinese culture through the eyes of a Balinese child raised in Britain as part of its 13-part TV series called Rooted, which examines culture and religion around the world.

Sophie Chalk, executive producer of Rooftop Productions, proposed the idea of filming in Bali. She has visited Indonesia many times, and believes filming in Bali would be an opportunity to dispel some misconceptions about the island and the country after the Bali blast on Oct. 12, 2002.

"In the program, we will take a child born of Balinese parents, who lives in Britain, to Bali to discover the roots of their family's culture," she said.

While filming, the director will try to expose the child as much as possible to the authentic life of a Balinese child -- including attending religious ceremonies, going to school, helping around the home, playing with local children and other activities.

"We need to find a child aged between eight and 12 years old who has grown up in Britain, but whose parent or parents originate from Bali and are Hindu," she said.

The production company intends to bring the child and at least one parent to Bali for a week-long shoot in March or April 2004.

"Through the British-born child's experience, we will learn what it is like to grow up and live in Bali."

The aim of the Rooted series is to encourage a better appreciation of life in a variety of countries outside the West.

"We will witness culture, religion, education, family and community life and become aware of the differences within and between countries.

"Our goal is to encourage a greater appreciation of religious diversity, of the wider world and different societies and cultures," Chalk said.

This is one of the primary goals of Rooftop Productions while filming thirteen half-hour programs for the United Kingdom's mainstream Channel Five TV.

Rooftop Productions is a non-profit television production company based in London. It works closely with the Charity Christian Aid, which sponsors many of its productions as part of its commitment to educational development. The company carries out projects around the world regardless of religion, race or creed.

Rooftop's primary goal is to make factual programs about countries outside Europe and the West in order to maintain high- quality international programming and to encourage understanding of different cultures and ways of life.

Each episode of Rooted features the life of an immigrant child in Britain as they return to their country of origin, where they meet their relatives and try to recapture the culture and traditions they left behind.

Rooted is already a hit and Channel Five TV has commissioned another season. Among the episodes already aired are those featuring children from Sri Lanka, North India, China, the Ukraine, Senegal, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kenya and Bolivia.

In its Balinese episode, Rooftop is working jointly with the Bali Film Commission (BFC), established in April 2002 by the Bali Tourism Authority.

Deborah Gabinetti, a consultant at BFC, told The Jakarta Post that they were very excited about working with a reputable international production company such as Rooftop.

"We are now working with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as well as the Indonesian Embassy in London, to scout a suitable Balinese child in Britain, but our deadline is short," she said.

She urged anybody knows such a child to contact the BFC or Rooftop Productions at its London bureau.

The program, she said, would enable people around the world to take a close look at Bali and to learn more about the island and its culture through a direct experience.

"This will certainly promote Bali and Indonesia in general," Gabinetti said. At the BFC, she collaborates with Putu Susi Erlina, Ruddy Legoh and many other talented individuals.

To encourage children around the world to watch the series, Rooftop has set up a Rooted website at, featuring the first season along with stories, diaries and video clips from each episode.

Anyone who knows a Balinese child living in Britain who might be interested in taking part in Rooted should contact the BFC at Tel: +62 (0361) 237 272; Fax: +62 (0361) 247 822 or write to Executive Producer Sophie Chalk at