Shot in Bahia, Brazil, The Possibility of Spirits is an essay film on the mystery of spirit-possession. Images of possession ceremonies first and foremost reveal that we don’t know what it is that we are looking at. Words are allowed to drift out of meaning. Trying to grasp the phenomenon, they become silence, or laughter, or screaming. Paying tribute to the extra-ordinariness of its subject matter, this film invites viewers to allow themselves to be confused and -in that confusion- consider the possibility of spirits.
Mattijs van de Port is a professor of anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. His first documentary, Saborear Frutas Brasileiras, on eating Bahian fruits, was shown at the RAI Ethnographic Filmfestival in Edinburgh, and theorized, with Annemarie Mol, in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2013). His essay film The Possibility of Spirits, using footage from 6 years of filming in Bahia, was completed in 2016. It was selected for many ethnographic film festivals including Ethnofest, and awarded the Samodiva Award for “Best Film of the International Film Festival of Ethnographic Films 2017” in Sofia, Bulgaria. In
Knots and Holes, an essay film on the life of nets (2018), he explores what becomes of theory
in the medium of film.