<img src=images/voodoo.jpg"


Benin, Germany, Switzerland, 2003, 90 min, Color, 35 MM
World Premiere
DIR/DP: Alberto Venzago

Mahounon’s father was a Voodoo High Priest in Benin who lived nearly a century, before passing his unwritten knowledge of sacrifice and stones to his son. Although Mahounon is still decades younger, his connection to the Other World advises him he must swiftly find his own successor as his own lifespan is limited.

After the oracles tell the Voodoo specialist–one of the last true practitioners of native magic–that his own sons aren’t up to the task, Mahounon opens his doors to children from all over West Africa, but they too are rejected by the spirits. Instead, the oracles select 12-year-old Gounon, a village boy who is wrested from his family to be surrounded by blood and strangers as demanded by his total submission to the dark arts.

Alberto Venzago’s 10-year documentary is striking in its intimacy and access to Mahounon’s physical decline and Gounon’s powerful ascent. It’s a unique study of an education both compelling and chilling.

Thu Nov 11 10:00pm
ArcLight Theatre 13

Fri Nov 12 9:30pm
ArcLight Theatre 11


Psychomagic: Beyond Therapy
Alejandro Jodorowsky

Monday, November 22, 7pm, CIIS
Admission: $15 general/$10 students & seniors

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Chilean-born mystic, director, author, and esoteric comic book author, speaks for the first time in North America on Psychomagic, his healing practice that uses the language of the subconscious to undo our deepest knots, phobias, fixations, and obsessions. He is the writer and director of the film El Topo.

A Series of Lectures on Spiritual Integration in Modern Times
Hosted by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.

Come join pioneering spiritual leaders and scholars to discuss the cutting-edge topic of Enlightened Duality: an integrated and embodied approach to spirituality in modern times. Together we will embark upon a journey to unify the transcendent and immanent, divine and human, spirit and flesh.

All lectures will be held at CIIS Mission Street Building, Namaste Hall, third floor at 1453 Mission Street in San Francisco. This lecture series is also part of a three-unit, 15-week academic course for students and auditors. For information about registering for academic courses, please call CIIS’s Registrar’s Office at 415.575.6125. No continuing education units (CEUs) are available for these lectures.


The blind leading the blind

Even if they don’t like to say
it out loud, lots of Democrats
think that George Bush’s
supporters are a horde of
ignoramuses. Now comes evidence
that they’re right! A
remarkable new report, titled
“The Separate Realities of Bush
and Kerry Supporters,” from
PIPA, the Program on
International Policy Attitudes
at the University of Maryland,
suggests that rank and file
Republicans are more benighted
than even the most supercilious
coastal elitist would imagine.

Analyzing data from a series of
nationwide polls, the report
finds that a majority of Bush
supporters believe things about
the world that are objectively
untrue, while the majority of
Kerry supporters dwell in the
reality-based community. For
example, Bush backers largely
think that the president and
his policies are popular
internationally. Seventy-five
percent believe that Iraq was
providing “substantial” aid to
al-Qaida, and 63 percent say
clear evidence of this has been
found. That, of course, would
be news even to Donald
Rumsfeld, who earlier this
month told the Council on
Foreign Relations, “To my
knowledge, I have not seen any
strong, hard evidence that
links the two.”

Though its language is
dispassionate, the report lays
responsibility for this
epidemic of ignorance at the
White House’s door. “So why are
Bush supporters clinging so
tightly to these beliefs in the
face of repeated
disconfirmations?” it asks.
“Apparently one key reason is
that they continue to hear the
Bush administration confirming
these beliefs.”

Indeed, it says, “an
overwhelming 82% [of Bush
supporters] perceive the Bush
administration as saying that
Iraq had WMD (63%) or a major
WMD program (19%). Only 16% of
Bush supporters perceive the
administration as saying that
Iraq had some limited
activities, but not an active
program (15%) or had nothing
(1%). The pattern on al Qaeda
is similar. Seventy-five
percent of Bush supporters
think the Bush administration
is currently saying Iraq was
providing substantial support
to al Qaeda (56%) or even that
it was directly involved in
9/11 (19%). Further, 55% of
Bush supporters say it is their
impression the Bush
administration is currently
saying the US has found clear
evidence Saddam Hussein was
working closely with al Qaeda
(not saying clear evidence
found: 37%).”

These people aren’t going to be
swayed by the argument that
Bush has alienated America’s
allies and left the country
isolated in the world, because
they don’t believe this to be
the case. “Despite a steady
flow of official statements,
public demonstrations, and
public opinion polls showing
that the US war against Iraq is
quite unpopular, only 31% of
Bush supporters recognize that
the majority of people in the
world oppose the US having gone
to war with Iraq,” the study
says. Bush supporters also
think that world public opinion
favors Bush’s reelection. In a
poll taken from Sept. 3-7, the
study says, “57% of Bush
supporters assumed that the
majority of people in the world
would prefer to see Bush
reelected, 33% assumed that
views are evenly divided and
only 9% assumed that Kerry
would be preferred.”

In fact, a PIPA study released
in early September found that a
majority or plurality of people
from 32 countries preferred
Kerry to Bush. PIPA surveyed
34,330 people, ages 15 and
above, from regions all over
the world. A Pew poll released
this spring similarly found
that “large majorities in every
country, except for the U.S.,
hold an unfavorable opinion of

Bush supporters are also
mistaken about the president’s
own positions (a pattern of
misapprehension that an earlier
PIPA report also documented).
“Majorities incorrectly assumed
that Bush supports multilateral
approaches to various
international issues — the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(69%), the treaty banning land
mines (72%); 51% incorrectly
assumed he favors US
participation in the Kyoto
treaty — the principal
international accord on global
warming … Only 13% of
supporters are aware that he
opposes labor and environmental
standards in trade agreements
— 74% incorrectly believe that
he favors including labor and
environmental standards in
agreements on trade. In all
these cases, there is a
recurring theme: majorities of
Bush supporters favor these
positions, and they infer that
Bush favors them as well.”

According to the report, this
reality gap is something new in
American life. “So why do Bush
supporters show such a
resistance to accepting
dissonant information?” it
asks. “While it is normal for
people to show some resistance,
the magnitude of the denial
goes beyond the ordinary. Bush
supporters have succeeded in
suppressing awareness of the
findings of a whole series of
high-profile reports about
prewar Iraq that have been
blazoned across the headlines
of newspapers and prompted
extensive, high-profile and
agonizing reflection. The fact
that a large portion of
Americans say they are unaware
that the original reasons that
the US took military action –
and for which Americans
continue to die on a daily
basis — are not turning out to
be valid, are probably not due
to a simple failure to pay
attention to the news.”

The analysis says that the
roots of this denial could lie
in the trauma of 9/11 and
people’s desire to hold on to
their image of Bush as a
“capable protector.” It offers
no guidance, though, on how
ordinary Republicans might be
coaxed back to reality.

And while “The Separate
Realities of Bush and Kerry
Supporters” may be perversely
satisfying to Democrats in its
confirmation of blue-state
prejudices, it carries a pretty
disturbing question for all
rational Americans: How can
arguments based on fact prevail
in a nation where so many
people know so little?

— Michelle Goldberg

[12:21 PDT, Oct. 21, 2004]