On behalf of the living

    Special screening

    Start 17 November 2023, 5:00pm
    End 17 November 2023, 7:00pm


    An anthropologist embarks on a belief-experiment because he wants more fully to experience and understand the lived world of his collaborators and adoptive family – a world in which the ancestors are alive and active.  As a PhD student Ton Otto first came to Baluan Island in Papua New Guinea to learn about the local culture by participating in it. That project goes on, and some islanders say he is ready to ritually contact the spirit of his late adoptive father on the island. Ton's father in Maastricht, the Netherlands, who is a devout Catholic, urges him to go ahead with those rites in all sincerity, reasoning that ‘miracles can happen’. His mother, though, remains skeptical. Likewise not fully convinced is Christian Suhr, Ton’s long-time ethnographic film partner. Their struggles over how to approach the filming are laid bare on screen. On Baluan, Ton’s adoptive sisters, Ninou and Asap, are ready to help him reach out to their father on the other side, but brother Pwanou will not join since he believes that the Bible forbids the summoning of spirits. All this sets up an intricate cross-cultural film essay on the human impulse to engage the supernatural, for good and ill.  

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