Early Monthly Segments

#69 = 12/8/ 2014 = Peter Adair’s Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People

“This film contains some of the strongest images I have ever seen. The faith these people exhibit is incredible. It makes me want to dance around with snakes.” – Harmony Korine

Shot in the summer and fall of 1966 in the Appalachian Hills of West Virginia, Holy Ghost People follows the rituals of the Holiness Pentecostal Church whose liturgy includes snake handling and speaking in tongues. Peter Adair’s small verité film crew brings us into the small confines of the church, intensely watching a congregation that values collective experience and individual revelation. Adair interviews participants who witness to their religious experiences and the value that experience has in their daily lives. These interviews add sincerity to the ecstatic rituals that follow, as Adair films an intense service that ends in snake handling, faith healing and spiritual possession.

Despite the Church’s practices being beyond the mainstream of religious practice, and indeed unfathomable from a secular understanding, the film follows the action with a deep interest and a complete lack of condescension. Peter Adair’s sympathetic eye has been attributed to his own outsider status as a young gay man in the middle of the tumultuous yet liberationist Sixties (he was 24 when he directed this film). In fact, Adair went on to be a founder of the Mariposa Film Group, with whom he co-directed the groundbreaking Word is Out, the first documentary to bring mainstream attention to the lives of everyday gays and lesbians. Holy Ghost People, can thus be seen as an early attempt at positive confrontation, showcasing Adair’s ability to meet his subjects in their unique circumstances from a generous and passionate perspective.

Lights, Marie Menken, 1966, USA, 16mm, 6 min
Holy Ghost People, People Adair, 1967, USA, 16mm, 53 min

@ Gladstone Hotel, Ballroom | 1214 Queen St West
Monday December 8, 2014 | 8:00 PM screening | $5-10 suggested donation

Special thanks to Haney Armstrong

EMS #70 = January = TBA