Religion/Spirituality

Out of the mouths of rural boys, finding the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin in Afghanistan.

Amida, 1983

Reeves approaches the issues of life and death through a meditation on light and dark, a minute observation of movement and stillness. The force of life and the inevitability of change, even violent change and decay, emerge from Reeves’s glittering collage of slow-motion, natural images. A glass shattering on a table and a statue of Buddha falling into swirling water suggest the Buddhist doctrine of the impermanence of life, that it cannot be contained but is forever moving on.

Animal Attraction is a documentary about the relationship between people and animals that questions the way we project our hopes and desires onto our pets, and ascribe human qualities and attributes to their gestures. The video was inspired by the plight of the filmmaker who was frustrated by the obnoxious behavior of her cat, Ernie. As a last resort, she gave in to a friend's suggestion to contact an animal communicator. This is her journey with interspecies telepathic communicator, Dawn Hayman, from Spring Farm CARES, an animal sanctuary in upstate New York.

Ascensor, 2019

Ascensor is an exploration of grief, longing and mysticism through a queer lens. It documents a syncretic ritual that culls from the magical reverberations in Mexican culture to process the unexpected loss of a dear friend. The repetition of the ritual eventually leads to the transcendence of physical space, transforming unrelenting ache into shining resilience.

Ashura, 2013

The Battle of Karbala (680) resulted in the death of Hussein, the grandson of prophet Muhammad and all his supporters. This battle is central to Shi'a Muslim belief in which the martyrdom of Hussein is mourned by an annual commemoration, Ashura. Artist Köken Ergun has worked with Istanbul's Shiite minority, documenting their preparations for the Ashura day.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

Atonement, 2005

Looney thespians run amok in a classroom.

"Presented in seven parts, Beauty Plus Pity considers the potential for goodness amidst the troubled relations between God, humanity, animals, parents and children... (it) contemplates the shame and beauty of existence; it is part apologia, part call to arms."

— Duke & Battersby

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

Benares, 1998

"In 1997 I went to Benares, India to study the Hindu practice of burning the bodies of their dead on the Ganges ghats. My purpose was:

1. To become more at ease with death, a hidden western phenomenon;

2. To de-fuse fear around seeing death;

3. To watch how Hindu elders congregate in Benares to die since dying here in this holy city guarantees "moksha", no rebirth. Visiting temples and ashrams for the elderly allowed me to observe how they use their time and prepare for their eventual passing.

CB, 2011

CB is an experimental bio-pic: its heroine, Charlotte Brontë. A collaboration between Doug Ischar and Tom Daws, CB was commissioned by the Laumeier Museum, St. Louis, for their inaugural Nightlight series.

Cilaos, 2016

To keep a promise made to her dying mother, a young woman goes off in search of her father, a womanizer she has never met. Along the way, she soon learns that he is dead. But that doesn’t change her plans, she still intends to find him. Carried by the spell-binding rhythm of the Maloya, a ritual chant from Réunion Island, Cilaos explores the deep and murky ties that bind the dead and the living.

A bloated rendering of fear and loathing in the Bible Belt—a belt unable to circumscribe the girth of garbage that threatens to tear asunder the very fabric of Southern society. Confessions of Nina Noir was shot on location in South Carolina with students from the South Eastern Media Center. Some of it had to be shot at their headquarters because the local PBS affiliate hated our grit-filled guts. The feeling was mutual.

Conversations Across the Bosphorous intertwines the narratives of two Muslim women from Instanbul, Mine and Gokcen, who demonstrate through poetic voices how their relationship to faith has shaped and determined their personal lives. Set on the banks of the Bosphorous, the narrow waterway that divides the the Asian and European continents, Conversations suggests that the relationship of personal faith to cultural and political struggles is one of the most critical issues in both the Islamic and Christian worlds.

This video uses a yoga performance by Barbara Breder to explore the masks of life and the dance of death.

After the screening of his film Wai'á rini, the power of dream in other Xavante villages, the people of Aldeia Nova from the São Marcos reservation asked Divino to make a film on the same ritual, the Wai'á ceremony. In this ceremony the young men are initiated into the spiritual world to develop their curative power. This is a new experience for Divino, as he has to shoot in a different village, but also find a way to try new tricks and to develop his editing skills.

Various languages.

Direction and photography: Divino Tserewahú

A high-pitched melodrama featuring the noise saturated spiritual journey of a vegetarian youth embroiled in big city shenanigans and occult extravaganzas. Along the way we meet a crippled and lovely conservationist, fiery latin lovers, a Loch Ness monster and a wide assortment of characters from the gutter and the galaxy. There is a seance and a seduction at Castle Kebrina along with a glimpse of Armageddon and a repetitive message from the future that booms new age nuances into the snap, crackle and pop stew.

50 doves fly out of a window, one by one. Some escape in a rush, some take their time and seem to be hesitating. The Dove symbolizes new hope and new beginnings after a disaster, as in the biblical story of the flood.

The Disappointment: Or, The Force of Credulity is a documentary about the search for four lost treasures buried on a single farm in Missouri. These treasures include a Spanish explorer's gold, silver from the Civil War, mysterious stone carvings, lost texts, and a wife's attempt to heal her husband and protect herself and her children. Part personal documentary and part historical essay, The Disappointment traces the patterns of cultural forgetting etched in the landscape of the Austin Farm.

By asking a group of space physicists the unanswerable, Semiconductor reveal the hidden motivations driving scientists to the outer limits of human knowledge. In an attempt to find meaning within the question, they open a Pandora's Box of limitations within science itself, revealing their own philosophical confines. Issues of faith, medicine and the laws of matter are raised to illustrate the infinitely complex universe we live in.

In this interview, political and social theorist, Terry Eagleton (b. 1943), shares stories of his Irish upbringing and British education, and sums up his current engagement with art theory, leftist politics, and spirituality under capitalism. With reference to Henry James, Frederic Jameson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, among others, this interview spans a vast landscape of literature and social theory.

The Earth Is Young takes as its starting point a series of interviews conducted with Young Earth Creationists, who find evidence of a six-day, six-thousand-year old creation in their reading of the fossil and geological record. The film frames these encounters with depictions of the slow and patient work of young paleontologists, and the strange, shimmering life in a drop of pond water, both of which point toward a world far older and more complex, if no less fantastic.

Rising fundamentalism and a government that cites faith to defend war actions have helped grow a desperate society. Dipping between ecstasy and despair, transcendence and absurdity, this movie journeys to a hidden space where you can lose your way, lose yourself in the moment, lose your faith in a belief system. An exhausted and expectant crowd waits on this narrow span. It is not a wide stretch, but it can last forever.

Explorers and discoverers, exploring and discovering themselves.

This is a colorful fable of many foibles involving a man of the cloth who wishes to shed those accouterments for something of a more sinister fabric. The plot tumbles unrelentingly toward a sci-fi tone when a time machine is thrown into the vivid melange and our anti-hero gets caught up with an ancient soul who has the hots for less ancient hunks. There’s spectacle on a budget and young and old doing their best to put on a big show about the sacred, the profane and the goofy.

For the Least is a short documentary about American Catholics who marched to Guantanomo to bring spiritual comfort to the prisoners and an end to the torture they endure. In December 2005, Catholic Workers--people of faith following the tradition of Dorothy Day--marched over 70 km in the hopes of entering the prison. Ultimately, although they could not actually visit the prisoners, they camped outside the Cuban military limit, fasting and praying for the detainees. The video is in the format of a letter written to the U.S.