A Balinese woman’s ceremonial obligations trigger her bipolar disorder (25 min)

The film focuses on Ni Ketut Kasih who has lived her whole life surrounded by the complex rhythms of the Balinese ritual calendar. Here, participation in ritual events is both a spiritual mandate and social obligation for women who spend countless hours crafting offerings. Ni Ketut’s masterful hand has contributed to her status as a highly respected ceremonial leader. However, the pressures of ritual requirements often overwhelm her, crowding her mind with memories of her difficult childhood during Indonesia’s war for independence.

This may trigger Ketut’s bi-polar disorder episodes, for which she has been hospitalized over 35 times. Ni Ketut’s case reveals the binding associations that may make certain burdens unbearable as cultural obligations, traumatic historical events, and personal experience overlap in unique schemas of stress that trigger cyclical episodes of mental illness. Ritual Burdens questions how communal spiritual obligations may be folded into personal schemas of stress to trigger episodes of mental illness.

Two days before a ritual is about to happen I begin getting symptoms...I feel like my chest is being cut with a bamboo blade.
— Ni Ketut Kasih

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Robert Lemelson
Robert Lemelson
Alessandra Pasquino
Wing Ko
Dag Yngvesson
Pietro Scalia
Herbert Bennett
Mike Mallen
Malcolm Cross


Assistant Camera
Consulting Editor

Music Composer


  • Win­ner, Bronze Award for Short Doc­u­men­tary, Pres­tige Film Awards, 2012

  • Win­ner, Award of Excel­lence, The Indie Fest, 2011

  • Semi-Finalist, Moon­dance Film Fes­ti­val, Boul­der, CO, 2012


  • Third World Indie Film Fes­ti­val, Mil­pi­tas, CA, 2011

  • Cinesol Film Fes­ti­val, Har­lin­gen, TX.


  • Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, Clin­i­cal Ethnog­ra­phy Work­shop, Los Ange­les, CA, 2011

  • Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, Com­par­a­tive Reli­gion Class, Newark, NJ, 2012

  • McGill Uni­ver­sity Global Men­tal Health Research Work­shop, Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada, 2011

  • Cal State Uni­ver­sity Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, 2011

  • Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, Clin­i­cal Ethnog­ra­phy Work­shop, Chicago, IL, 2011


  • World Men­tal Health Con­gress, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013