In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman
Long suppressed by missionaries and then by Soviet anti-religious campaigns, Siberian shamanism has experienced an unprecedented revival following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the number of shamans continues to rise. But who are these new shamans? Are they tricksters, magicians, businessmen, or cultural activists? This film takes a behind-the-scenes look at a Buryat shaman living on an island in the Lake Baikal as he moves between intimate shamanic rituals performed for local clientele and shows performed at various resorts for Western tourists in search of «primitive» cultures. The film captures cross-cultural miscommunication as the shaman and tourists misunderstand one another, usually comically, sometimes disturbingly, made all the more poignant by the conflict between the dominant Russian Orthodox Church and the local shamanic tradition. Juxtaposing 1920s archival footage of a shamanic performance with its contemporary counterparts, the film grapples with the long-standing tension between the «indigenous» and the «cosmopolitan» in a rapidly transnational world.
Anya Bernstein (2006)
EE.UU. – Russia