Yo Soy Hechicero // I am a Sorcerer

Film Info: A film by Ron Stanford and Ivan Drufovka.  48 minutes.  Spanish with English subtitles.  1997/2004.

Distribution: Ron Stanford at http://www.hechicero.com

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

Film website at http://www.hechicero.com

“Parish Portraits”

Film Title: “Parish Portaits” — by James Ault — 1999 — 51 minutes
Distributor: James Ault Productions — www.jamesault.com
Summary: (from the distributor’s website)

Portraits of four diverse Episcopal churches for the Zacchaeus Project and Trinity Institute’s national teleconference “Roots and Wings,” September 27-9, 1999. Includes short scenes on different themes–Episcopal identity, youth, women clergy, etc.–and a longer version of challenges faced by an Anglo-Latino congregation in Oxnard, California.

Keywords: American religion; Episopalians; parish life

Bronx Baptism

Film Info: Bronx Baptism – 1980 – 27 minutes

Distributor: Icarus Films

Summary: Film document, without narration, of a Pentecostal worship service in a Puerto Rican community in the South Bronx.  Fine presentation of Pentecostal worship styles.

Film notice taken (with permission) from the “Teaching Resources” list in Meredith McGuire’s Religion: The Social Context, third edition. Her 5th edition (available from Waveland Press: see www.religionthesocialcontext.com) does not contain the resource list. I have only traced some of these films to current distributors. Please post updated information about them, if you have it. – JS