Christian Suhr, Denmark, 2013, Danish and Arabic with English subtitles, 75 Minuten

Descending with Angels

Synopsis: Islamic exorcism or psychotropic medication? “Descending with Angels” explores two highly different solutions to the same problem: namely Danish Muslims who are possessed by invisible spirits, called jinn. The film compares two systems of treatment that despite vast differences both share a view of healing as operating through submission of faith to an external non-human agency—namely God or biomedicine. A Palestinian refugee living in the city of Aarhus has been committed to psychiatric treatment after a severe case of jinn possession which caused him to destroy the interior of a mosque, crash several cars, and insult a number of people. He sees no point in psychotropic medication since his illness has already been treated with Quranic incantations. A psychiatrist and nurse try to understand his point of view but find that even further medication is needed. In the meantime a local imam battles a stubborn jinn-spirit of Iraqi origin and tries to explain the Muslims of Aarhus that they should stop worrying so much about jinn, magic, and other mundane affairs since nothing can harm anyone except by the permission of God. Filmmaker: Christian Suhr is a filmmaker and Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Aarhus University. He is the director of the award-winning films "Descending with Angels" (2013), "Unity through Culture" (2011), or "Ngat is Dead" (2009). He is author of the forthcoming ethnographic film-monograph "Descending with Angels" about Islamic exorcism and Danish psychiatry. With Rane Willerslev he has written the article “Can Film Show the Invisible: The Work of Montage in Ethnographic Filmmaking (2012) and edited the book "Transcultural Montage" (2013).