Lake Worth Campus, Staff Writer
There once was a man, with a camera in his hands; that embarked on a project to observe and capture the mysterious rituals of Haitian Vodou. He then took what he captured and presented it to those that were willing to watch.
It was on the evening of July 29, 2014, that award-winning filmmaker, Georg Koszulinski, presented the very first screening of his latest film documentary, “The Two Worlds” on Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth Campus.
According to Koszulinski, the primary focus of this film documentary was “Vodou as it is practiced in the Haitian countryside”.
The film itself, having been produced in a matter of 10 days, observed Vodou practices in a particular rural section of Haiti. With the help of Haitian translators, guides, and the participation of Haitians that were devoted to the Vodou religion, Koszulinski had the opportunity to capture the practice of Vodou from the Haitian perspective.
On what inspired him to take on such a project, Koszulinski expressed “I was inspired by Haiti’s history of resistance.” He further stated, “Vodou plays a central role in the Haitian identity and worldview.”
The screening of this documentary was not an event in which the audience was simply there to watch a film. Koszulinski expressed that he wanted to receive feedback from the audience for the sake of improving the film because the film was in the process of editing. The title of the film itself (“The Two Worlds”) was also unofficial.
It was, therefore, both before and after the film was presented that Koszulinski openly invited questions to be asked by members of the audience. He, in turn, provided answers and detailed explanations. It was also after the film presentation that Koszulinski welcomed constructive criticisms and commentaries by members of the audience.
One must take into account that this documentary was viewed by audience members of different backgrounds, and therefore, very different perspectives. As a result, a variety of responses were evoked.
For instance, there were audience members that appeared to be confused, only because the subject of Vodou was unfamiliar to them. There were also members (those that claimed to know much about Vodou) that seemed to be offended because they believed that the film did not truly represent Haitian Vodou and even the Haitian culture at large.
Dylan Demnard, a student of Palm Beach State College, who watched the screening of this film expressed, “While the documentary was playing, I enjoyed it. It was well filmed and had beautiful pictures.” Demnard, however, further stated that the message was unclear to him. “It felt like a paper without a thesis.”
From an artistic point of view Demnard stated, “I might have liked it much more if it was presented as an art video…but as a documentary, I actually find it [quite] empty and misleading.”
Nathalie Duncan, another student of Palm Beach State, shared, “Esthetically the film was nice, but I thought that it was a little confusing…I felt like I did not learn much either about [Vodou] or about Haiti! … [The film] did not give a lot of information and gave a very biased point of view.”
During this event, Koszulinski acknowledged that the film invites critical thinking asopposed to providing an actual answer. According to Koszulinski, “The film asks questions, implicitly, and I think will ask the western audience to reflect on the power of Vodou and the enduring legacies of the Haitian people.”