Directors’ Notes

After having experienced Catholic upbringings we independently developed a great interest and scepticism in our religious surroundings. When we first heard about a man in Russia who has been claiming to be Christ for nearly 20 years we had to know more about it. Further research showed us that his case was not unique, and so we began our quest for today’s Jesus Christ.

Through the kind support of both Iranian director Babak Payami and the cultural research centre Fabrica we quickly established contact and began to build close relationships within these diverse communities.

Right from the start we decided not to explore the question of whether these claims of the Second Coming were true or false. Even though both of us started out, and ended up, as non-believers we wanted to approach the subject assuming that one of our characters could actually be who they claim to be. Throughout the journey we never questioned their authenticity but rather focused on what messages they had to give to society. We wanted to see with our own eyes how Jesus Christ might live today and to hear from the mouths of the faithful the reasons why they have dedicated their lives to these leaders.

In March 2009 we had the opportunity to visit the first community, SOUST in Brazil. Initially we were held at a distance, but we left three week later feeling like we had made ourselves a second home. We saw that, through mutual respect and a wish to learn from each other, an interesting and warm dialogue unfolded that survives with us until today. From organic vegetable farming to a celibate lifestyle INRI Cristo shared his views and beliefs with us, giving a picture that went beyond the comic character that the Brazilian media has painted of him.

In July 2009 we decided, quite spontaneously, to visit David Shayler, who we had read about on the Internet a couple of weeks before. He agreed instantly to let us spend some time with him in Guildford, UK. Every day, staying with him and his friends, who squat a beautiful farmhouse outside the town, was a surprise. We witnessed the group’s continuous struggle against the current consumerist system. We found it especially interesting to see how a career as Jesus Christ might begin; while INRI Cristo had 40 years experience of Messiahship, David Shayler was rather new to the field. We saw at first hand how his intense struggle to be believed and understood unfolded.

For our last adventure, to a community in Siberia, we had two options. We either had to leave as soon as we returned from England, in August 2009, in order to take part in one of the two main celebrations of the community or we would wait until January, when the birthday of Vissarion (the community’s leader and purported Messiah) is celebrated. Though the thought of -40°C in complete isolation was quite intimidating we decided to visit the last community in January.

During these months of waiting we began the editing process, experimenting with narrative structures and trying to identify exactly what it was that we wanted to say. We also prepared for our one month stay in the bitter cold. Our biggest worry was how to keep a camera working at such low temperatures; as it turned out this was a very justified concern. Arriving in the Siberian taiga with all its extremes, freezing eye lashes, outdoor toilets and cabbage for every meal, was admittedly a shock but after a few days we adapted and soon began to see why 5.000 people love to live in this beautiful environment. Even though Vissarion lives a secluded life with his second wife and six children, his presence within the community’s everyday life is tangible. Portraits of Vissarion hang in every house, school and vehicle, while bells ring and prayers are said at all times of the day. Although only having spent two days with Vissarion himself at the end of our stay, we felt like we had got to know him through our experiences with the people of the community.

We felt strongly that, although none of the three leaders or their followers tried to convince us of anything, they all had a deep wish to be understood and believed. We left each group with a slight feeling of not living up to expectations. Disappointment was sometimes obvious at our responses to hopeful questioning about if our lives had changed or if we could empathise with their intense spiritual experiences.

What impressed us most was that, for the followers, the pursuit for the “right” kind of life and their own personal happiness was stronger than what other people might think of them. Having left behind comfort, partners and family bonds, their lives now revolve wholly around one person and what that person claims to be. Even if sometimes we found it hard to believe, we saw that most people were really satisfied and somehow more fulfilled than the people in our usual surroundings. We couldn’t help but ask ourselves what it is that so many people today seem to be missing and why it is so hard for us to reach contentment without having to find our own personal Jesus.

9 Responses to Directors’ Notes

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  2. Chez,I gotta agree with "L". I enjoy paid programming a lot more than most network stuff not because of the cursing and nudity either (though heaven knows I like my goddamn boobies), but that they appear to take time to craft a good story instead of slapdash something they can wrap advertising around.Truth is I haven't gone out of my way to watch late night talk since Carson left his show so I can't say I'm a fan of either Leno or Conan, but I think the REAL winner here will be Letterman. Serves him right for his rocky start at "The Electric Company". You go, Letterman!

  3. Ayangalu says:

    What a pluarese to meet someone who thinks so clearly

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  7. rain says:

    Where is this movie playing in Toronto (Canada) or the USA? What theaters? Buffalo?

  8. Telmo Teixeira says:

    Dear Director

    from Director to Director

    Chase the time and time will say who is who, it is not far but I help you.

    Think that the big war started and the caos as the scriptures begin,

    1 who from which men you think is ready to talk to humanity?
    2 which ones dont have kids and are away from vanity and luxurious life?
    3 which one of them is capable to bring up rightness and straitgh tought of hope with only one speech, only once to all humanity?

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Best Success

    Telmo

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Film Facts


Genre: Documentary
Production Year: 2010
Length: 75 min
Format: PAL Color Wide 16:9
Languages: English, Portuguese, Russian
Subtitles: English

Crew


Direction: Valerie Gudenus and Heloisa Sartorato
Producer: Babak Payami
Editor: Pablo Pastor
Music: Francesco Novara
Fabrica Production © 2010
Art: Emmanuel Plougoulm
Web: André Amaral