The culture and ceremony around water buffalo racing goes back far, far further than well-known US horse races like the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont Stakes.
Filmmaker Marko Randelovic embedded himself with Bali’s buffalo racers in 2017 to learn about makepung, or Balinese buffalo racing. In the unique sport, winners don’t gain fame or fortune. But there are cups to be won and bragging rights to be had. So why race? As Randelovic explains, “they do it to get a place in the community.”
Makepung is a time-honored tradition in Bali. The racing didn’t start until the 1930s, but the culture and religion surrounding it goes back centuries. Randelovic chronicled the training, the lifestyle, and the races themselves to create an inspirational short film that captures the true spirit of one of Indonesia’s most unique traditions.
Matador’s No Blackout Dates podcast spoke with Randelovic about Makepung and the process of filming a documentary in Bali. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.