Making Bored in Heaven: A Film about Ritual Sensation

  • Author(s): Cora Dean and Kenneth Dean
  • When: 2014-05
  • Where: Visual Anthropology Review
  • This essay discusses the making of the documentary film Bored in Heaven: A Film about Ritual Sensation (2010). We first discuss our theoretical framework, then following the content and organization of the film, we provide historical and ethnographic context on the return of the gods to Southeast China over the past few decades. Throughout the essay, we discuss how the film was made in order to enter into and respond to realms of ritual sensation within an overall, overwhelming ritual event, collectively performed by villagers in this part of China. Different sections reflect on camera angles, length of shots, montage, narration, rhythm and breathing, overstimulation and spectacle, alternative temporality, shamanic possession, and cinematic form. The conclusion discusses key themes of the flow of affect within communal self-expression and the future of local ritual.

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