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A Very Different Music Documentary-Livi Zheng's Bali: Beats of Paradise

Livi Zheng is a filmmaker who believes in the power of the medium to do more than simply explore her own creative vision; she believes in the power it has to affect the future. Her early work with films like 2014’s Brush with Danger garnered her acclaim that propelled her into worldwide notoriety. Subsequent work has made her a popular guest speaker on topics spanning film, culture, and international business. To date, she has lectured at over thirty universities worldwide including Yale, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, University of California-Los Angeles, New York Film Academy, and the Communication University of China. Zheng’s latest production is the documentary Bali: Beats of Paradise. The film communicates the tradition of Indonesian Gamelan music and dance as well as its recent integration into modern music.

Gamelan music has been used in James Cameron’s Avatar, television’s Star Trek, and even video games such as Mario Bros. by Nintendo. A fan of this native Indonesian music, Zheng had been searching for a project to deeply communicate its roots. When Grammy Award-winning vocalist Judith Hill (20 Feet from Stardom) paired up with celebrated Indonesian composer Nyoman Wenten for a musical project combining funk with Gamelan, it presented the ideal scenario around which to build a story. Along with Executive Producer His Excellency Ambassador Umar Hadi, Indonesian Ambassador to Korea and Julia Gouw (ranked among the "25 Most Powerful Women in Banking" five times by American Banker Magazine), Livi crafted a film which shows the relevancy of this culture’s art upon modern music and the world.

In the documentary, Wenten is seen approaching retirement about forty years as a celebrated composer in Gamelan and eager to work with the younger generation (via Hill) to spread the word about the unique textures and colors of Gamelan. Hill is on a journey to discover new sounds to use in her own compositions and further her artistic experiments. Their work together culminates in the creation and release of the “Queen of the Hill” song and music video which also features traditional Gamelan dancers and garb.

Bali: Beats of Paradise premiers on November 7th in Beverly Hills at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Samuel Goldwyn Theater. It also releases in New York and Los Angeles on November 16th of this year This documentary’s intent mirrors that of the musical artists presented in the film, introducing the tradition and allure of Gamelan to those previously unfamiliar with its beauty.

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