Imogene “Queenie” Kennedy was a contemporary priestess in post-colonial Jamaica who catapulted her African spiritual practice into renown. But after centuries of erasure, what remains of the dance between the living and the dead?
In the wake of the loss of her mother, the filmmaker travels into the heart of Jamaican countryside to research kumina, an ancestral ritual. The ancient practice, she learns, is a driving force in Jamaica's culture and identity, yet its leaders have historically been discarded as witches and criminalized. Jamaica's post-colonial renaissance enabled Queenie to share her practice with the world. Today, artists and followers are reimagining kumina, even as the mysterious world of spirit possession reveals divergent pathways to freedom, healing, and transformation.
At any other time in history, Queenie would have been discarded as a witch. For centuries, colonial laws and social taboos made her traditions of kumina and revivalism misunderstood and feared. But the end of colonialism in Jamaica created the rare opportunity for her to share her practice on the world stage. Queenie's legacy is palpable today in Jamaican art, music, and identity. In this visually emotional film, artists, scholars, practitioners and the filmmaker meditate on the values and struggles inherent in holding on to a spiritual life.
Ancestral folk practices and the art forms they have spawned reveal people resisting in the most expansive sense of the word. They serve as vehicles to freedom and healing. They represent the absence of fear and shame, something we need more than ever today.
Director Nyasha Laing
Nyasha is a documentarian who works to transform our understanding of diverse social and cultural movements and practices. Her independent storytelling - which has appeared in and on the Los Angeles Pan-African Film Festival, BBC World Service, YES Magazine, The Art Museum of the Americas, IMZ International Festival & European Traveling Showcase - explores loss, regeneration, identity, and freedom.
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