In 2016, an odd coincidence causes a filmmaker to pull some old videotapes out of storage. The footage is of a Balinese healer he met in 1996. For reasons that are not clear, he abandoned the project years ago.
The story returns to 1996. We meet Mangku Pogog, a “balian” or traditional healer. He is extraordinarily fit for a man in his 60’s, and has a fearsome reputation among the Balinese, who come from all over Bali to receive his controversial treatments. In addition to being a healer, Pogog is a Hindu priest, father, and respected member of the community. We watch his disturbing treatments that seem to cure blindness and leprosy, and hear testimonials from people he has cured. We also meet three other healers, who have very different healing methods, and explore the Balinese conception of health and medicine.
Pogog’s world is changed forever when a foreigner’s account of this “miracle worker” goes viral and tourists arrive, some with serious issues including cancer, psychosis, and AIDS. The filmmaker’s friendship with Pogog is strained and he decides to leave Bali.
One year later, the filmmaker returns to Indonesia as a news cameraman and discovers that Pogog has become ill. The filmmaker gets help from a sympathetic Indonesian physician, but there is little change in Pogog’s health. Meanwhile, Indonesia has erupted in violence, leading to the fall of that country’s dictator in 1998. The filmmaker returns to the USA.
20 years later, the filmmaker and his family return to Bali and learn of some extraordinary events that took place in the intervening years. They learn what ultimately happened to Pogog and rekindle a friendship with the healer’s family.