Written by Darius James and Oliver Hardt and directed by Hardt, the documentary The United States of Hoodoo explores the influence of African spirituality and religious customs, brought to the Americas by the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade centuries ago, in American popular culture.
The 100-minute documentary features Darius James and Ishmael Reed, Nick Cave, Val Jeanty, Shantrelle P. Lewis, Danny Simmons, Kanene Holder, David “Goat” Carson, Hassan Sekou Allen, Sallie Ann Glassman and others.
Hoodoo is set for a theatrical release in Germany next month and for an international release afterwards on autumn of this year.
A spiritual road movie
The United States of Hoodoo is a road trip to the sources of black popular culture in America. The film’s main character is African-American writer Darius James who is known for his often bitingly satirical and self-ironic texts on music, film and literature. The film’s story begins when Darius´ world is turned inside out after his father´s death. Uprooted from his life in Berlin, he unwillingly returns to his childhood home. All that remains from his father is his mask collection and a cardboard box filled with ashes. His father had been a painter and sculptor, his work drawing deeply on manifestations of African-based spirituality. Yet while he lived he fiercely rejected any idea of being inspired by the old gods of Africa. Back in a house that is now his, but not quite, Darius finds himself confronted with many questions about his own life. In need of answers he sets off on a search, not for his roots but for traces of the spiritual energy that fueled and informed a whole culture.
Darius´ journey begins in the urban intellectual milieu of New York City, then following the traces of popular Voodoo myths and legends to Mississippi and New Orleans. From there he moves on to Oakland, Seattle and Chicago.
He immerses himself in the fabric of urban creativity where he encounters artists, musicians, writers, spiritual leaders and scholars. He finds out that the African gods have taken on new forms since their arrival on North America’s shores. Their spirit now manifests itself in turn-table wizardry, improvisational skills and mind-blowing collages, performances, and rituals. He also finds out that an age old figure from the voodoo pantheon, a divine trickster who comes with many names, plays a major role in all of this.
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Watch the trailer below: