“Ticket to Paradise,” an upcoming romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, was criticized earlier this week after it was discovered that the film was shot in Australia, despite the story being set in Bali, Indonesia.
Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, defended the film during a press conference on Tuesday.
Sandiaga said during the briefing that the production team for “Ticket to Paradise” was one of many who had approached his department about filming in Bali during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict social measures were taken at the time to prevent the spread of the virus. The film was eventually shot on an island in Queensland, Australia, from November 2021 to February 2022 and received a $4.3 million grant previously referred to as the Location Incentive.
“I said that when it comes to facilitating visa facilitation and easing shooting clearances, we would be able to [help]† But when it comes to COVID-19, we have to follow the rules of the COVID-19 Task Force,” Sandiaga said.
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Sandiaga also added that the film can still promote tourism to Bali, which was economically hit hard during the pandemic due to its tourism-dependent nature, Sandiaga said. coconuts† The island has only recently shown signs of improvement after reopening to tourists this year.
Aside from the filming location, other criticisms of the upcoming film include the actor playing a mixed-race local Balinese. Like Henry Golding’s controversial casting in the 2019 hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” some have argued that the casting of Makime Bouttier, who is of Indonesian and French descent, imposes Western beauty standards on Asian men.
There’s also controversy over whether the film perpetuates the same kind of “colonial gaze” that the previous Roberts film “Eat Pray Love” reverberated for. Intan Paramadith, a lecturer in media and film studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, noted how media represents travel in response to film.
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“Particularly in the travel novel genre, we usually see female protagonists from the western middle class (as this genre is mainly aimed at a female audience) who enjoy their independence and freedom to travel because of their class and white privileges,” she said. . by means of South China Morning Mail† “They have a problem in the beginning, but in the end order is restored, and the places they visit often serve as catalysts for change.”
She continued: “The films perpetuate the colonial gaze that reduces places and people as a landscape for Western characters to stand out or assert their agency; this view depends on the invisibility of the local population’s labor and the exploitation of natural resources to support tourism.”
Others have defended the film, with Indonesian filmmaker Rahung Nasution pointing out that the film is fiction and thus open to creative freedoms when it comes to both shooting and casting.
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“Fiction and non-fiction films are two different fields. If a documentary about Bali were shot on Lake Toba in Sumatra, that would be a problem,” he said.
Featured image via Universal Pictures