Nyoman has waited ten years to cremate his father (16 min)

Accord­ing to Bali­nese Hindu beliefs, the cre­ma­tion cer­e­mony, or ngaben, is one of the most impor­tant steps in a person’s spir­i­tual life. It is through cre­ma­tion that the soul is released from the body to ascend to heaven to be reincarnated.

Ngaben: Emo­tion and Restraint in a Bali­nese Heart takes an impres­sion­is­tic look at the ngaben from the per­spec­tive of a mourn­ing son, Nyoman Asub, and reveals the inti­macy, sad­ness, and ten­der­ness at the core of this funer­ary rit­ual. Amidst ample his­tor­i­cal, inter­pre­tive, and polit­i­cal takes on the cre­ma­tion cer­e­mony, the film pro­vides a per­sonal and poetic glimpse of the exquis­ite cul­tural tra­di­tion and the com­plex emo­tions involved.

In the beginning...I didn’t think that I would be sad. I tried very hard to hold it in...but I was not able to. I always imagine it.
— Nyoman Asub


Robert Lemelson
Robert Lemelson
Alessandra Pasquino
Wing Ko
Pietro Scalia
Wing Ko
Adia White
Malcolm Cross


Consulting Editor

Music Composer




  • Win­ner, Hon­or­able Men­tion for Doc­u­men­tary Short, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Peace, Inspi­ra­tion and Equal­ity, Jakarta Indonesia


  • 111th Amer­i­can Anthro­po­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion Meet­ing, San Fran­cisco, CA, 2012
  • Asso­cia­tion for Asian Stud­ies Annual Con­fer­ence Film Expo Con­fer­ence, San Diego, CA, 2012
  • 8th Inter­na­tional Con­ven­tion of Asia Schol­ars, Macau, China, 2013


  • USC Mas­ters of Visual Anthro­pol­ogy Sem­i­nar, Los Ange­les, CA, 2012
  • US Embassy Screen­ing, Wash­ing­ton, DC, 2012
  • UCLA Linda Garro Class Screen­ing, Los Ange­les, CA 2013
  • CLA Mind, Med­i­cine and Cul­ture Group, Los Ange­les, CA, 2011


  • Sara­sota Film Fes­ti­val, Sara­sota, Florida, 2013
  • Russ­ian Anthro­po­log­i­cal Film Fes­ti­val, Eka­ter­in­burg, Rus­sia, 2013
  • Win­ner, Hon­or­able Men­tion for Doc­u­men­tary Short, Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val for Envi­ron­ment, Health and Cul­ture, Jakarta, Indone­sia, 2013
  • Frozen River Film Festival, Winona, MN, 2013
  • International Festival of Ethological Film Belgrade, Serbia, 2013
  • Ethnografilm, Paris, France, 2014
  • Ethnocineca, Vienna, Austria, 2014
  • Festival International du Film Ethnographique du Quebec (FIFEQ), Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 2014
  • Rural Route Film Festival, New York, 2014