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The film series Acts of Faith showcases films that depict a wide variety of religious rituals across cultures, from individual acts of devotion to community-wide sacred practices. Selections include ethnographic documentaries, fictional narratives, and experiments in cinematic form.

Guest curated by Ed Halter, Critic in Residence at Bard College, and founder and co-director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic arts in Brooklyn.

Adults $8 / Students and Seniors, $5. Five-event pass, $35.
Gallery admission is free with a purchased ticket.
All screenings begin at 6:30 pm and take place at
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

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September 28
6:30 pm
Jai Santoshi Maa (dir. Vijay Sharma, 1975, India, 130 minutes)

One of the most popular low-budget “mythologicals” ever produced by India’s massive film industry, Jai Santoshi Maa tells the story of Santoshi Maa, the Goddess of Satisfaction, intercut with a parallel tale about one of her female worshippers. During the film’s initial release, cinemas became sites of worship of the goddess, and rituals of devotion to her are elaborately staged in this remarkable special-effects-driven spectacle.


October 19
6:30 pm

Lourdes (dir. Jessica Hausner, 2010, Austria, 96 minutes)

Shot on location in Lourdes, France, Hausner’s contemplative film stars Sylvie Testud as a young woman with multiple sclerosis who visits the world-famous shrine. The film becomes a near-documentary portrait of the rituals of pilgrimage as enacted by 21st century worshippers. In the New York Times, Manhola Dargis praised Testud’s “minutely detailed performance” in this “intelligent, rigorously thoughtful, somewhat sly film.”


October 26
6:30 pm
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (dir. Freida Lee Mock, 1994, USA, 108 mins)

Mock’s Academy Award-winning documentary profiles Maya Lin, the architect and artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC; remarkably, Lin’s design was chosen when she was still a 21 year old undergraduate. Mock’s emotionally engaging film recounts the struggles around Lin’s controversial design, as well as its ultimate popularity as a site of personal remembrance.


November 16: Selected Shorts
6:30 pm
Ex Voto (dir. Tania Cypriano, 1990, Brazil, 7 mins)
Crosswalk (dir. Jeanne Liotta, 2010, USA, 19 mins)
Visions de Lourdes (dir. Charles De Keukelaire, 1932, Belgium, 13 mins)
Mammy Water (dir. Jean Rouch, 1956, France, 18 mins)
“Courtesy Icarus Films”
Sons of Shiva (dir. Robert Gardner and Ákos Östör, 1985, USA, 29 mins)

(Total run time 86 mins)

Mixing artists’ films with ethnographic cinema, this program features a variety of approaches to envisioning public acts of faith. In Ex Voto, artist Tania Cypriano uses video itself as a votary medium, while Jeanne Liotta’s Crosswalk expressively documents a Catholic procession on the Lower East Side, and Charles Dekeukeleire’s quasi-surrealist film visits the structures surrounding the shrine at Lourdes. Mammy Water and Sons of Shiva depict community-wide rituals in Ghana and West Bengal, respectively, conveying the aesthetic and devotional power of such large-scale, communal events. Followed by a conversation on filmmaking and faith between Liotta and curator Ed Halter.


December 14
6:30 pm
The Secret Nation (dir. Jorge Sanjinés and the Ukamau Group, 1989, Bolivia,128 mins)

Set against the turbulent backdrop of a military coup, this groundbreaking feature film–among the first ever shot in the indigenous languages of Bolivia—follows Sebastian Maisman (Reynaldo Yujra), who returns to his former Aymara village after life in the city but ultimately disgraces his community. As a rite of expiation, he journeys to his homeland once more and enacts the ancient Jacha Tata Danzanti, a ceremony in which the performer dances himself to death as a sacrificial offering.

On View in the Gallery
Agents of Faith: Votive Objects in Time and Place
September 14, 2018–January 6, 2019 Learn More Button
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