A major controversy has erupted in Bali over the imminent debut of a documentary made by a Singapore tourist depicting foreign female tourists whose "basic instincts" are purportedly serviced by local young men, known by the popular pseudonym of "Kuta Cowboys."
The pseudo-documentary "Cowboys in Paradise" has been promoted on the Internet and on CNN via a raunchy and titillating trailer portraying a group of Kuta beach surfers as male gigolos. Its writer-director-photographer, Amit Virmani, paid local men and community member for on-camera interviews. Those who were interviewed in the course of making the film claim they were deceived, told they were appearing in a HIV/AIDS prevention film.
Provincial administrators, including Governor Made Mangku Pastika, and the Bali police have responded angrily to the film seen to besmirch Bali's reputation. As a result, locals appearing in the film have been called in for interrogation by police while officers from Bali's cyber crime division are examining if Virmani violated Indonesian immigration and labor law, committed criminal fraud, and ignored regulations on film-making.
Insulted by the films insinuations, Kuta community leaders are denying the involvement of Balinese youth in any underground sex industryand have placed both tourists and beach workers under intense scrutiny.
To date, some 29 men have been called by police for questioning.
The filmmaker has responded to the public outrage, claiming a "horrible misunderstanding" has taken place. Amit claims the film takes pains to make a distinction between "Kuta cowboys" and male prostitutes.
Beyond any criminal charges for misrepresentation and slander that might be lodged against Virmawi by those featured in the film, he also faces up to one year in jail and a fine of Rp. 40 million (US$4,300) for violations of the 1992 Film Law. if, and when, he can be brought to justice in Indonesia.
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