The director asks a Samyang grandmother about the "Queen Egg Grandmother Spirit" Photo by Natasha Mistry

The director asks a Samyang grandmother about the “Queen Egg Grandmother Spirit” Photo by Natasha Mistry

Director Giuseppe Rositano, who has lived on Jeju for seven years, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to raise funds for post-production work (including film festival entries) of his documentary “At Search for Spirits on the Island of Rocks, Wind and Women.” The film deals with the traditional shamanistic beliefs of Jeju Island. The campaign is less than a week old yet has quickly created a buzz with a total of 45 backers and $2,200 (at the time of writing). Support has been received from both within and outside Jeju.

“So far it’s going well,” said Rositano about his campaign. “The community has come together. I’ve been really touched. I’m invigorated, and I’m in disbelief. It really gives me confidence now that people are behind [my project]. I’m glad to see there’s an interest in the community, which is typical of the Jeju [expat] community.”

Donations are not limited to the expat community on Jeju Island, however. Rositano received donations from friends and family back home as well as individuals in Japan and owners of pagan Web sites in the United States and Europe.

“I haven’t found a way to reach out to the local [Korean] community,” Rositano said, “because Kickstarter is all in English. As far as the support for doing interviews, knowledge, and places to show the film, the Korean support has also been overwhelming. As far as the funding … I haven’t found a way to reach the Korean society yet. “ Rositano did, however, hear that his film is generating some interest and excitement among young Koreans on Jeju.

The purpose of Rositano’s film is to capture traditional stories from individuals who still practice shamanism on Jeju Island. The population of believers is rapidly declining as most of the believers are 70 or older and it is considered that younger Koreans are generally not interested in embracing a traditional religion and beliefs that are considered as outdated. Rositano’s film is a fresh attempt to explore these beliefs in an effort to raise awareness of said beliefs, generate interest among young Koreans on Jeju and designate Jeju shamanism as a world religion. He hopes to accomplish these goals through film festivals across the globe.

When Rositano is not working on his campaign to raise funds, he is busy finishing his film. “I’m busy with editing and consulting shamanism experts,” he said. “I’m trying to get permission to use certain photos and documents. Technical stuff. “

Rositano recently took an artist residency in Samdal-ri, a village of about 500 people. This has been a big change from living in Jeju City, but the countryside has provided Rositano with the peace and solitude he needs to remain hard at work and focused on finishing his feature-length film. “ I’ll be doing a lot of developing. Reframing the story, integrating, just keep building the story and find the right way to present it. It’s important to deliver it in an effective way. This is the chance to get out the story.”

Rositano’s Kickstarter campaign has 30 days left. He’s looking to raise $4,000. If you are interested in donating, you can visit the campaign site here.

A woman diver demonstrates how to pray to the Grandmother Snake Spirit. Photo by Natasha Mistry

A woman diver demonstrates how to pray to the Grandmother Snake Spirit. Photo by Natasha Mistry

The director helps a woman collecting seaweed over an incline. Photo by Natasha Mistry

The director helps a woman collecting seaweed over an incline. Photo by Natasha Mistry

 

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