Summary: An introduction to the religious makeup of Clinton County, PA. From the ethnic Catholics of Renovo, through the fundamentalist Baptists of North Bend and the struggling Jews of Lock Haven, to the consolidated Lutherans of Nittany and Sugar Valleys, this is a survey of religious conditions and outlooks in this rural county. The film also serves to set the scene for the remaining films in the “Profiles of Rural Religion” series.
Film Info: “We’re Really in It With You, Charlie” (1979) – Part of the”Profiles of Rural Religion” series produced by P.J. O’Connell for the Rural Documentary Project and Penn State Broadcasting – 58 minutes
Summary: Rural pastor Charlie is an “Outsider” having moved to the area only one year before. Charlie Mason is a thoughtful smart aleck, irreverently reverent, a counselor, a politician, an outsider in the small rural city where he is pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lock Haven, PA. Rev. Mason is in conflict with his new congregation. He believes “they just want to have a church, and I want to do something important in the lives of people.” Conflict–real and imagined–is at the heart of this examination of a clergyman and his relationships with his congregation.
Summary: At 33, Paul Wonders was a successful dairy farmer, with a wife, six children, and a farm that had been in his family for four generations. He “got saved” at an evangelistic meeting in 1948, sold the farm, became an itinerant tent preacher and later an ordained minister. Today, he is pastor of the Gospel Tabernacle Assembly of God in Hammersley Fork, an unincorporated crossroads community in the most sparsely populated corner of Clinton County, PA. The Wonders have built a new church building; they hold four exuberant services a week for their congregation of less than 100. They and their church are flourishing. This is an exploration of a minister and his wife–co-ministers–and the joyous brand of evangelism they conduct in their lives and in their church
Summary: Religious involvement can be casual; in these three cases, it is not. Sue Jensen is a seminary intern, encountering the Salona Lutheran Church. Sue is suburban-raised, Princeton-educated, and a woman serving as pastor of a small, rural congregation. She is, to say the least, in contrast to her congregation’s expectations. Connie Richardson is a rural activist in the Gospel Tabernacle Assembly of God. She sings; she plays the organ; she teaches Sunday school; she is a missionary to her neighbors. And Connie believes: in the biblical “gifts”, in prayer, in healing, in her power to perform miracles “in the name of the Lord.” Celeste Rhodes Larsen is a nonbeliever in a strongly religious community, a former Jew in a predominantly Christian population, and a creative dance professor at a small teachers college. Her skepticism counterpoints prevailing attitudes. Rural religion is varied, intense, and decidedly alive.
Summary: To conclude the “Profiles of Rural Religion” series, the series consultants, sociologists Don Crider and Joe Faulkner, come to the TV studio for some analysis and some dialogue with the subjects of the six documentaries. But the dialogue develops most strongly between the subjects themselves, as questions of diversity and religious choice become prominent. And the program provides a final, frontal encounter between Suzie Andresen and Glenn Stover (see “Separate Realities”). Their quite different religious views, untempered and forcefully put, illustrate the range and intensity of religious expression in Rural America.
Summary: Sugar Valley is a “bowl,” with only two breaks in the mountain rim. For 200 years, it was largely self-sufficient, economically, socially, and religiously. Since World War II, however, the Valley has slowly changed. There are two Lutheran churches where once there were nine, a group based out of the United Church of Christ is fighting a school merger with a district outside the Valley, and at the annual community picnic there are now electric-guitared rock groups. But the content of the lyrics–the gospel message–has remained much the same. This is a film of preservation and of change, of meeting the needs of the times and of holding on to what is dear. Sugar Valley is changing, but gradually, sometimes grudgingly and, when possible, on its own terms.
Film Summary: In Jogjakarta, Indonesia, the Muslim women’s headscarf is distinctively colorful, fashionable, fun and expressive. What are the dreams and commitments behind the choice to veil or not to veil? JILBAB, a documentary named after the Indonesian word for the Muslim hijab, is about veiling trends for women in the city of “Jogja.” It features students from Universitas Gadjah Madah, designers of local women’s fashion boutiques,and Muslim women from outside of Indonesia speaking about the significance of veiling (or not veiling), veiling ideology and fashion, and the history of veiling in Islam. This film explores uniquely Javanese Islam, its unmistakable religious aesthetics, and what the jilbab suggests in an Indonesian context as opposed to Middle Eastern, North American or European Muslim contexts.
Film Info: Laatoo: Dance and Spirituality in Pakistan” /« Laatoo : Danse et spiritualité au Pakistan » English and Urdu with French subtitles. Directed by Alix Philippon and Faizaan Peerzada. 2003.
Distributed by: Alix Philippon (Sciences Po, Aix-en-Provence, France). There are various versions, ranging from 45 minutes to an hour and a quarter.Contact the director for information.
Film Summary: LAATOO is a documentary about the role of dance in Pakistan : from the classical Kathak,Bharanatyam and Odyssi to the sufi tradition of the dervish right up to the dances performed by prostitutes. The film uses scenes and interviews with great dancers such as Naheed Siddiqui, Sheema Kirmani, Tehreema Mitha, Indu Mitha and Fasi-ur-Rehman to help us locate Pakistani dance in its religious, philosophical, social, and political contexts.
LAATOO est un documentaire qui fait l’état des lieux de la danse au Pakistan : de la danse classique comme le khatak, le bharatanatyam et l’odissi, à la tradition soufie des derviches jusqu’aux danses pratiquées par les prostituées. C’est à travers les témoignages des grands danseurs classiques tels que Naheed Siddiqui, Sheema Kirmani, Tehreema Mitha, Indu Mitha et Fasi-ur-Rehman, que nous découvrons la danse et sa problématique dans son contexte religieux, philosophique, social et politique.
Enlarging the Kingdom explores the encounter, interactions, and conflicts between Catholicism and African Pentecostalism. By putting in conversation Nigerian and Ghanaian Pastors and Catholic Priests the documentary looks at their diverse understanding of evil forces, authorized and unauthorized forms of relating to the Divine, the making of idols and icons, religious leadership and authority, women access to the pulpit and religious politics of the Italian Nation State. Enlarging the Kingdom offers a unique insight into the challenges of African Pentecostals in Italy and the role of Pentecostal Churches for African immigrant communities.
Film Summary: Juan Eduardo Nuñez is a Santaria practitioner living in suburban New Jersey. It focuses on his work, his beliefs, and the rituals he performs for people who come to him for healing. Here is the film website’s description:
What can an outsider ever hope to understand about “Santería,” the widespread but little known constellation of Afro-Caribbean religions and cults which are mysterious by their very nature? In an attempt to unlock the mysteries of this mixture of Christianity, Yoruba religion, and spiritism (and others as well) the producers are drawn to Juan Eduardo Núñez, a Cuban refugee who came to the US in the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
The viewer meets Eduardo in his inner sanctum, a South Jersey backyard garden shed in a subdivision near Atlantic City: Eduardo enters numerous trances; a gunshot victim seeks treatment; Eduardo, possessed by a spirit named Miguel, tells us that he was captured as a slave in 1490; a young woman seeks romantic advice; Eduardo’s wife, a Pentecostal, tells us that her husband is an instrument of Satan.
Yo Soy Hechicero views the subject on its own terms. It captures the intensity and confusion of the producers’ own experience as welcomed outsiders at a variety of spirit possessions, animal sacrifices, love advice, healing, ancient songs and chants, and mythic storytelling, as well as everyday events that surround the ritual. It is an unusually intimate look at a community full of tumult, not just economic and physical, but spiritual as well.
While almost entirely in Spanish, the video is accessible to an English-speaking audience. Large, easy-to-read subtitles make often esoteric Cuban dialects comprehensible, yet the viewer is able to hear the original language throughout. It is presented entirely without “expert” narration.
Having seen the film several times, this summary captures it well. — JS