Pasola - battle on holy ground

Celebrating ancient indigenous traditions in Indonesia: in Pasola Festival in West Sumba men on horses fight with speers against each other in an annual ritual
2 min, Indonesia, 2022, director Joo Peter

More than a symbolic battle, passion can break out during the holy game and the situation can escalate among followers, so police is guarding the game. Pasola means speer, deriving from Sanskrit word sula. The ancestor spirits are believed to come for visit for Pasola, the last harvest is celebrated and the fertility of the next harvest supported by blood falling to the ground (nowadays more the blood of a pig or chicken, which are cooked for these holidays). In the old times, it was considered an honour to die during Pasola, today rarely accidental deaths occur. But still most horsemen can show their old scarfs. The elders gather beginning of each year to decide, when Pasola will take place in different villages. When the sea worm swims to shore, its signifies the end of the wet season and the beginning of crop-planting, then it's the right time for Pasola.
Location: Wainyapu in Sumba (and neighbor village Ratenggaro).

Music: the vocal song "Umbu Ndilu" (Sumba harvest song) is performed by Ngana Halatana, Ata Ratu and Hawali Remang, produced by Kahi Ata Ratu, Nency Dwi Ratna and Joseph Lamont. The mouth harp (Kandingan) is played by Lai Ria Kahumba. Sound arrangement for Pasola short film J. Peter

Script, production, camera and editing by Joo Peter.

  • Joo Peter
  • Joo Peter
  • Ata Ratu
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 10 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 9, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
    4K and HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Joo Peter

studied at art academy Stuttgart and film university Berlin-Potsdam Babelsberg
writer, filmmaker, artist
worked for theatre, opera, musical, dance, TV, cinema
Since 2005 teaching, travelling, filming, publishing

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Director Statement

This short film is celebrating Sumba culture with the wonderful vocal singing of Sumba indigenous music legend Ata Ratu.