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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

GSS Best Of Fantastic Fest: Belief: The Possession Of Janet Moses (2015)

A tight knit Maori family in New Zealand tragically kills one of their own during an exorcism gone awry. Based on true events.

Written and directed by David Stubbs


On December 10, 2007, Janet Moses, a 22 year old woman lost her life in an exorcism gone wrong. Being distant and showing signs of being a danger to herself and others triggered an assessment by those close to Janet that an evil spirit had taken over her body. Aggressive steps were taken to rid Janet of this malevolence to no avail. A young mother lost her life. To simple negligence or a insidious, unseen force is likely why the title of this mostly reenactment of the events is, Belief.

Writer/director David Stubbs urges viewers to place ourselves in the shoes of this family. With his re-telling, we're invited into their homes, social gatherings, and understanding of the fierce dedication they have to each other. One conflicting component of their large family dynamic was how insulated they seemed in opposition to much external affairs. Janet's family truly had each other's back without it feeling like a cult. However, this love comes with statements from her living relatives that went on trial and received probationary terms for the homicide, still believing they did the right thing. I don't know if I can discuss a film, a documentary that is well documented without inflicting my own biases. It wouldn't be fair. But I can say that Belief did its job in building the anxiety, dread, hope and hopelessness of a family in peril and the physical and psychological damage from this tragedy.

Belief is extremely unique in the ways in which it positions the duality of a Maori people (Polynesian first settlers) who also live in a centuries colonialized country by the British. It's a smaller part of the film, but very significant in understanding the disconnect between a family and their lineage's spiritual practices and "new world" Christianity and European influence. Belief, even as a real life story is open-ended because each of us will question and form our own theories because no one knew what was going on inside of Janet's mind. And unfortunately, we never will.


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