1977 / 52 minutes

Directed by
Stephen Cross
Country of production
United Kingdom
Disappearing World Series

Umbanda is a syncretic religious movement, combining elements from orthodox Catholicism with submerged African and indigenous Indian spiritual beliefs. In spite of past attempts to suppress it, Umbanda flourishes in the heterogeneous culture of contemporary urban Brazil. The film somewhat ambitiously seeks to give an exposition of the eclectic repertoire of the Umbanda movement. There is lengthy coverage of ritual performances, including interviews with mediums and their clients, which emphasise the role the movement plays in the management of personal malaise and affliction experienced as a by-product of change and urbanisation. The concluding sequences of the Sea Goddess, Yemenya – identified with the Virgin Mary – show the annual Umbanda festival where half a million participants from all over the country assemble on the beaches of Säo Paulo. The film’s strength lies in its graphic footage of spiritual possession and healing but it has been criticised for not providing a fuller account of the functioning of Umbanda groups, and the movement’s articulation with the political authorities in Brazil.

Language and subtitles
English with English Subtitles
South America
Possession Health / Health care / Healing Religion / Belief / Faith Ritual

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