Returning Souls

In the historically most famous ancestral house of the matrilineal Amis tribe in Taiwan, the carved pillars tell legends. After a strong typhoon toppled the house 40 years ago, the pillars were moved to the Institute of Ethnology Museum. Recently young villagers, with assistance from female shamans, pushed the descendants and village representatives to communicate with ancestors in the pillars. They eventually brought the ancestral souls (rather than the pillars) back and began reconstructing the house. This documentary interweaves reality and legends as well as the seen and the unseen as it records this unique case of repatriation.

Region of Filming

Region of Origin

Year of Release

2012

Duration

85 minutes

Format

DV, Color

Directors

27

Hu Tai-Li

Hu Tai-Li is currently a research fellow and documentary filmmaker at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica in Taiwan; a concurrent professor at National Chin-Hua University, and the president of Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival. After graduating from the History Department of the National Taiwan University, she entered the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, and obtained her Ph.D. degree in anthropology. She has directed and produced eight documentary films (The Return of Gods and Ancestors, Songs of Pasta’ay, Voices of Orchid Island, Passing Through My Mother-in-law’s Village, Sounds of Love and Sorrow, Encountering Jean Rouch, Stone Dream, After Passing, and Returning Souls).