Puppet movie to educate children

Having fun with Javanese shadow puppets while creating the soundtrack to a new educational film at the University of Otago music department's Albany St studio are (from left) Dr Ian Chapman, Associate Prof Rob Burns, Dr Dan Bendrups and Dr Trevor Coleman.
Having fun with Javanese shadow puppets while creating the soundtrack to a new educational film at the University of Otago music department's Albany St studio are (from left) Dr Ian Chapman, Associate Prof Rob Burns, Dr Dan Bendrups and Dr Trevor Coleman. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Some movies have been known to give people guts-aches, but a new film about sanitation in Indonesia aims to educate its viewers how to avoid the problem.

The short film Rama and the Worm, is being produced at the University of Otago music department's Albany St studio.

Project co-ordinator, La Trobe University (Melbourne) research education and development lecturer, and former University of Otago music lecturer Dr Dan Bendrups said the 25-minute film was being made in collaboration with Prof Donald Stewart, of Griffith University, who has been working in Indonesia for a number of years, building sanitation facilities in rural parts of the country.

''That project has been completed, but as a carry-on to that, Don and I have put together the idea of using Wayang Kulit, or Javanese shadow puppetry, as a vehicle for promotion around those facilities that he's built, and getting some health education out into these communities.''

Dr Bendrups said the screenplay had been written by himself and seventh generation Javanese shadow puppeteer Dr Joko Susilo, of Dunedin.

''Joko and I have written a new story, based around some key characters in the traditional Wayang Kulit repertoire, that basically puts them in a battle against intestinal worms in the body of a small child.

''The idea is that the battle scenes and worm puppets make it very interesting for Indonesian kids to watch and learn.

''Wayang Kulit is a popular form of entertainment in Indonesia.

''We figured it would be a really good way of getting our message around health promotion out there.''

The film gives key information to Indonesian children about how to avoid being infested by intestinal worms and other illnesses caused by eating and drinking unsanitary food or water, he said.

Dr Bendrups said Wayang Kulit was traditionally accompanied by Javanese Gamelan music. However, the movie would be accompanied by an original soundtrack created by himself and Dr Susilo, as well as Dunedin musician Dr Trevor Coleman and University of Otago lecturers Prof Henry Johnson, Associate Prof Rob Burns and Dr Ian Chapman.

''It's quite a unique soundtrack which uses digitally modified instruments to create some original funk, jazz and other aspects of popular music.''

He said the film had a budget of ''tens-of-thousands'' and was being funded by the Australian National Commission for Unesco, with further support from La Trobe University and the University of Otago.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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