by João Maria GUSMAO & Pedro PAIVA
2014 / 16mm / color / silent / 1S / 43' 00

The Djambi is a collective healing ritual practiced in São Tomé. During the Djambi musicians and female members of the local congregation call forth the spirits of saints by their mesmerising songs. Once someone hears the song of its patron saint a trance trigger happens and that person falls under trance, dying symbolically. He or she is then resurrected as undead by the healer who is hosting the Djambi, using cigarettes and alcohol. The people who are in a trance state gather together to prepare a feast and medicine to perform both the healing and to ask the spirits for blessing. Before this happens though, the possessed need to convince the audience that they are actually otherworldly, they speak in different languages, dance frenetically, and do feats, etc…
Gusmão and Paiva try to capture the Djambi in a parallel if not opposite perspective of the classical ethnographic film. The footage is entirely mute and sometimes shot by the people who are in trance, it is presented without any editing or commentary, the film reels are shot continuously without breaks except to change negative. This film aspires to be a zombi film, witnessing the fabrication of the transcendental realm of the deceased by the acting of the undead. Something close to the birth of theatre is reenacted here: death is being cheated as the imagination of the absolute other, that which cannot be experimented directly and has to be performed as a ventriloquism, between truth and fiction. 


distribution format 16mm
screen 1,37 - Standard (single screen)
speed 24 fps
sound silent
rental fee 170,00 €