In Search of Voodoo: Roots to Heaven






Saturday, March 10, 2018


Visit the documentary's website to learn more!


IN SEARCH OF VOODOO: ROOTS TO HEAVEN is an origin story. Weaving together the personal, the cultural and the spiritual, it tries to capture the vibrant tales of Voodoo, the nation of Benin and the country’s favorite son, actor Djimon Hounsou. Following one of Hounsou’s many journeys to the country of his birth, it’s the story of a man rediscovering the core of his past and the lessons that the world can learn from a vibrant, yet misrepresented way of life.


Spirituality, in all its forms, represents the cornerstone of everyday life for billions across the globe. Our seeks to illuminate the practice of one such system of faith that is prevalent within our home areas but is widely misunderstood and misinterpreted abroad. There is a dark and unfair mythology surrounding the central tenants of that faith that we believe this project can help dispel. Voodoo is an organic belief system that values the most positive aspects of life. Through its use of a rainbow of colors and the joyous integration of music, dance and fashion, Voodoo is truly something to be celebrated. The tales of ancient mythology that describe the gods of polytheistic religions have become the cornerstones of language, names and many other traditions in much of the Western world.


This acceptance and centrality to everyday life is what Voodoo is to the people of a number of regions worldwide: a spiritual belief system made up of many gods that govern various facets of everyday life. One marked difference from the forces of nature of the dominant cultural powers of thousands of years ago is that, unlike the Greek, Egyptian and Mesopotamian gods, the gods of Voodoo (Spirits) are regarded as beneficent beings, each controlling their domain with respect and harmony rather than violence and conflict. Voodoo also has ideas in common with Chinese mythology, particularly regarding the natural order (spirits of the water, the air, the earth, etc). These peaceful elements of the Voodoo way of life are a fundamental difference between the perceptions of those outside the belief system and the realities within.


ISOV follows the award-winning actor Djimon Hounsou, on a personal and contemporary journey of self-discovery to locate his roots and spiritual heritage in the cradle of an ancient way of life. Through Hounsou’s eye’s and narrative, we travel to Voodoo’s source in Benin, meet its most highly respected priests, and gain a more authentic understanding of Voodoo’s tenets and practices. Crucially, the project presents an opportunity to see Voodoo in a different light, to change the perception of Voodoo around the world as it has historically been portrayed.


Avoiding the well-worn narrative strategies of earlier films dealing with the subject, ISOV is built around a traditional Beninian parable, as told by Hounsou. But as Voodoo itself adheres to no such conventions, Hounsou’s narrative follows instead its own poly-rhythms and vibrations. It also includes the voices of wisdom and faces of cherished community elders, and privileged access to sacred spaces. The documentary creates an imagery reflecting a man’s process of self-discovery on a journey to one distinctly African place that has had an enormous global cultural impact. It is a story which must inherently reflect shifting forms, unexpected turning points, and multiple perspectives. It is a richly-layered journey, which fundamentally incorporates not only music, rites and ritual, but seeks a higher consciousness.


Like many African stories, the story of Voodoo is one that many Western audiences have had neither the means nor the good fortune of experiencing. With global headlines dominated by uncertainty in the region and beyond, we believe that voodoo can offer a joyful alternative, a real spark of life to an international audience. Capturing that spirit on film is a continent-spanning journey that we hope you will join.