RSS file with home page updates in XML RSS Info divider Bookmark and Share divider email Join our email list! divider cartCart  
Icarus Film
Distributing innovative and
provocative documentary films
from independent producers
around the world
32 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201divider(718) 488 8900
From the Cuba Media Project of the Americas Media Initiative
A film by Eliezer Pérez Angueira
 Text Size Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size divider Printable VersionPrintable Version
film still

"To live without faith is to live a sad, disillusioned life." -- Beneranda, Age 97

Alabbá opens a window into the world of Santeria - a uniquely Cuban religious tradition into which one must be initiated by a "godmother" or "godfather" -- and introduces us to practitioners of the religion ranging in age from their 40s to their late 90s.

The participants in the film describe the moment in which they became initiates - often as a result of an illness, or a desire to heal someone close to them who was suffering. One devotee who grew up in a deeply Catholic family says he was shocked after first being introduced to Santeria by the man who would become his godfather. Considering the religion to be backward, he fled the home and didn't return for five years.

Possession by deities - or orishas - is one of the key practices of Santeria, and followers of the religion discuss their experience of being "mounted" by the orishas, and of their relationships with them. They speak of them as close friends who have accompanied them on their journey through life.

In addition to first-hand accounts, the documentary also includes the histories of three women who were key in the founding of Santeria: Efuche, Latua, and Obba di Meyi. All three were born in Africa and came to Cuba as slaves, congregating in the 19th century at a small wooden building in Havana. The film traces their personal histories - or what is known of them, since Santeria is primarily an oral tradition - and the spread of the religion from the capital to rural Cuba.

Santeria was suppressed and its practitioners persecuted for many years - but oppression seems to have only strengthened the religion. The believers we meet in the film are impassioned and deeply devoted to the orishas that guide them. Interspersed with their testimony is rare footage of religious practices and ritual items.

Alabbá is a fascinating documentary about a little-understood religious tradition. It offers insights that help deepen an understanding of the beliefs and practices of Santeria, and is best viewed by audiences who already have an overview of the basics of the religion.

"The film is evidence of how important faith is for believers and how they can believe that it has never let them down, despite their difficult and impoverished living conditions" - Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database


40 minutes / color
Release: 2013
Copyright: 2010
Sale: $248

Subject areas:
Africa, Anthropology, Caribbean, Christianity, Cuba, Cultural Anthropology, History (World), Latin American Studies

Related Titles:
Glenafooka: Enchanting examination of the persistence in rural Ireland today of ancient beliefs in otherworld spirits, including fairies, ghosts, banshees and other supernatural forces.

Major Leagues?: Profiles members of the Cuban National women's baseball team, who pursue their passion in a soceity filled with machismo and prejudice.

The Sugar Curtain: An intimate portrait by Camila Guzmán Urzúa about growing up in Cuba during the "golden years" of the Cuban Revolution.

Home | New | Titles | Subjects | PDFs | Ordering | Resources | Latest News | Site Map   
About | Closed Captioned | Best Sellers | Study Guides | Filmmakers | RSS | Screenings   
  Follow Us! On...
Facebook Follow Icarus Films on Twitter YouTube
Copyright (c) 2016, Icarus Films
Last Updated August 17, 2015
Privacy Policy