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Celebrating Semana Santa: Change, Conflict, and Continuity in Rural Honduras| 43mins
Director: Sam Pack | Producer: Sam Pack
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: United States
Subject Tags: americas, belief, communication, community, honduras, indigenous rights, religion, united states
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
Synopsis:
This film documents a religious ceremony held at the neighboring villages of Pueblo Nuevo and Petoa in rural Honduras during Semana Santa (Holy Week or Easter). The ritual drama enacted in this ceremony resonates with a remarkable persistence of indigenous beliefs phrased within a Catholic idiom. During the week leading up to Semana Santa, both villages are literally overrun by Judios (Spanish for “Jews”), masked individuals who carry wooden swords, speak in a guttural manner, and generally cause mayhem by staging mock sword fights with each other. Not surprisingly, members of the local Catholic Church—most notably the priest—consider these indigenous celebrations to be sacrilegious. Conflict between the various factions remains high, and there is a lingering threat that this performance will not retain its vibrancy or even exist ten years from now. The tension is further exacerbated because the individuals involved do not feel comfortable speaking face-to-face. By including the divergent perspectives of members of the various constituencies, the ultimate goal of the film is to facilitate a channel of communication between the participants that will enable dialogue. With that in mind, the filmmaker returned to Honduras to screen the film in order to make this invaluable cultural heritage available to the very community of which they are records. Participants were asked for their reactions, which were then incorporated into the final version, thereby adding a unique reflexive component to the film. Exploring how past symbols are interpreted in modern contexts, and do not simply survive but thrive in those radically changed situations, sheds light on the varied ways people craft their understanding of the present with reference to the past and hope for the future.

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Sam Pack

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