SXSW Film Reviews

SXSW Film Reviews


D: Peter Friedman, Roger Manley

Documentary Feature Spotlight

There is no other film like Mana: Beyond Belief at SXSW 05. While this likely elicits a "must see" response, it's not for everyone. This unconventional documentary will vex viewers demanding a clear narrative drive that explains all and leaves nothing to interpretation. However, the subject of this fascinating, often mesmerizing film defies explanation as much as it revels in all its iterations. At film's start, a Maori priest explains Mana as the power that resides in tangible objects. Through glimpses of various rituals – religious, social, intellectual, and pop culture – Mana: Beyond Belief illustrates with lush images, painstaking attentiveness, and a few well-chosen interviews the meaning of this elusive term. Whether viewers translate Mana as spirit, duende, soul, the Christian meaning of grace, or something else, this rendering remains a challenging, iconoclastic film that will enchant some and perplex the hell out of others. Paramount, 1:45pm

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