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concordia 25/11/2014 - 02:00PM

A Spirited Start: Divine Interventions 2.0 Launches in Montreal with HUICHOLES

huicholesLast night nearly 500 people packed into Concordia University’s H-110 Auditorium to see HUICHOLES: THE LAST PEYOTE GUARDIANS, and for those of us involved with Cinema Politica Concordia, it was one of the most memorable screenings we’ve had in eleven years. HUICHOLES chronicles the struggles of Mexico’s Wixárika people against a Canadian mining company by focusing on the traditions of intense spiritual connections this embattled Indigenous group has between humans, the animal kingdom and the plant world. The documentary, which is directed by Hernán Vilchez, was shot over several years with the community and is much more than a document of resistance: it is a breathtaking poem made in honour of the Wixárika people.

shaman ritual

Cinema Politica selected HUICHOLES as one of its main Divine Docs—documentaries that embody the theme of social justice and spirituality—for this year’s edition of Divine Interventions: Documentary, Social Justice and Spirituality. HUICHOLES perfectly and provocatively captures the spirit of resistance and transcendence while offering positive steps toward reconciling humankind’s destructive force on each other and the planet. As such, it is a magnificent film to launch the second instalment of Divine Interventions, which is a sidebar program of films circulating throughout the CP Network between Fall 2014 and Winter 2015, with over 40 CP locals participating. The program also has an online component, where audiences can join in conversation, post reflections, and encounter more related media to the films and their diverse subjects.

At the screening last night we were joined by the director, Hernan as well Jose Ramirez and his son Enrique, who are shamans and featured in the film. Jose and Enrique performed a sacred ceremony as part of the introduction, inviting the audience to join them in this blessing and giving thanks ritual. They also performed a song on their traditional instruments and afterward displayed their handmade crafts outside of the theatre. 

At the end of the film, just before the credits rolled, we all watched Jose walk down the aisle to the front of the cinema to stand in front of the bottom of the giant screen in the light of the projector, showing such pride in his work, his people and this fantastic film. Our audiences were clearly moved by this and by the whole event itself, and all leapt to their feet in a lengthy standing ovation that was the perfect show of appreciation and respect.

crafts huicholesThe post-screening discussion lasted over half an hour (not bad following a film that runs over two hours!) and was engaged, dynamic and intelligent: A perfect cap to a perfect evening.

Muchos gracias to Hernan, Jose, Enrique and to Tracy Barnett (a journalist based in Mexico who has been helping coordinate the North American tour of the film) for an incredible night that managed to powerfully capture the spirit of our Divine Interventions program and to embody exactly what it is we do at Cinema Politica: create community spaces that are defined not by the material borders around us, but by the imaginations, convictions and dedication of those who transgress borders. In this case it was exactly the moment where spirit meets action, and we’ll never forget it.

To learn more about Divine Interventions, and how you can win prizes by tweeting reviews and reflections of Divine Docs using the hashtag #DivineDocs, visit divinedocs.com.

 

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