Set in Jeju Island, South Korea, Spirits focuses on the stories of six different villages’ unique shrines and the personal relationship between their worshipers and the ‘Bonpuli’ myths and deities associated with each shrine.
The director, Joey Rositano, spent two years collecting myths from the remaining practitioners of Jeju shamanism. Having lived on Jeju Island for eight+ years, he often heard talk of mysterious shamanistic worship. He soon realized that the traditional religious practices of the islanders were met with a considerable amount of prejudice and that the things he was hearing from younger people in the city about shamanism weren’t at all accurate.
What he found was a complicated and complete religious system which was being misrepresented by the younger generations who had moved away from shamanism. Of particular interest were the hundreds of shrine myths and the twelve epic myths that the village shamans have memorized and passed down through scores of generations.
Inspired by the way of life of the elderly generation, he started to make a film documenting the stories he had been told in hopes to help recover the tradition of Jeju shamanism, which he believes stands at the center of Jeju identity itself.