18 Months, Over 500 Hours of Footage
As a popular tourist destination in South Korea, Jeju Island has risen to fame predominantly for its natural wonders: hiking trails in abundance, scenic ocean views and South Korea’s highest mountain. It is possible to experience these in just a few short days, but staying on the island a bit longer or even making it a home provides the opportunities to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of some of the more interesting aspects of Jeju. Documentarian Giuseppe Rositano, Jeju Island resident of 7 years, explores some of these more interesting aspects of Jeju life, specifically the shamanistic beliefs and shrine religion of Jeju Island that is in danger due to the rapidly declining population of believers. Rositano’s film is currently in post-production.
Giuseppe has lived on Jeju Island for 7 years. The project idea came to him gradually he realized there was a very complex belief system being played out right under everyone's noses. While many of his friends native to Jeju had a vague notion of these beliefs and practices, very few of them had any precise knowledge of them.
Spanning the course of 18 months and accumulating more than 500 hours of shamanistic ceremonies and traditional storytelling on film, Rositano captures the spiritual life of 5 villages through exploration of their native deities and traditional oral stories that have been passed down through generations. These stories, which describe the lives of Jeju’s extensive pantheon, are quickly disappearing. At Search is an attempt to preserve these unique indigenous beliefs.
Each village on Jeju Island has several shrines in which local deities specific to the island are 'seated'. Each of these deities corresponds to a 'bonpuli' or oral myth. With an adventurous spirit, this documentary sets out to capture the retelling of these 'bonpuli' legends in the voice of what is likely the final generation of elders who received the stories from their parents and grandparents. Sadly, younger generations are seldom aware of these stories which serve as the cornerstones for their grandparents' spiritual lives and cultural identity. With over 400 shrines on the island and a total of 18,000 gods on Jeju, that's quite a loss to humanity's cultural history!
The At Search project will raise awareness to one of the world’s “other religions” by providing a fresh view of these rich beliefs. This film will preserve some of Jeju’s cultural identity and inspire young Koreans to become more interested in the beliefs that have shaped the lives of their ancestors. The goal is to finish the post-production process and get more exposure through film festivals across the globe. This is where you come in!
Why I need your help
Documentaries are expensive. For the last year and a half, Giuseppe and the team have funded this project exclusively with their personal budgets. Thus far, this project was possible because Giuseppe has lived on Jeju for many years and has built rapport with locals over the years and was able to film inexpensively. His contacts aided greatly in the planning and execution of the filming, but more funds are needed to take this film to the next level.
Our next steps are the post-production phase of the project and entering film festivals. By helping, your money will go towards informing the world of this culturally unique religion that receives very little attention and is in danger of becoming extinct. Your money will go towards post-production costs and entry fees so we can take this project to the next level. Please check the incentives section for some amazing goodies!
More information about the location and film
Jeju Island is picturesque, a Unesco World Heritage Site, famed home of women sea divers and Halla mountain, Korea's tallest mountain, volcanic topography, lava tube caves and much more. The native language of Jeju is a dialect particular to the island. Much of the film is spoken in this dialect with both English and Korean language narration.
We really hope you can join us in raising awareness of these beliefs on the beautiful island of Jeju. Any amount you can donate would be helpful! Also, please spread the word about this incredible project through Twitter, Facebook and other social networking networks. We are sure this beautiful film will travel the world thanks to your help!
Risks and challenges
Documentaries are complicated, daunting endeavors rife with challenges and difficulties. Two of these difficulties are condensing such a rich and powerful story into an hour and a half, and the other is funding. With your help and positive energy, we can overcome these difficulties. Thus far, local support with translation and fact checking has been a godsend. Over 50 participants have aided in the filming of this project, reflecting the spirit of the community we've built here on the island.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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