Casting call Short film on bicultural identity
Sacred Selfhood is a short film production with young new generation filmmakers from Meervaart Studios & Filmacademie Amsterdam
A BICULTURAL TWENTY SOMETHING IS DESPERATELY TRYING TO FIT INTO HIS WESTERN ENVIRONMENT, WHEN AN ENCOUNTER WITH HIS ANCESTORS FORCES HIM TO REEVALUATE THE DEFINITION OF BELONGING.
Sacred selfhood shows the confusion that adolescents form the African
diaspora experience as they try to form their identities with the western
world. They try to find belonging in binaries, but are constantly confronted
with their dual background. Unsatisfied with who they are, they learn to
create their own space. A space that sits in between the two worlds they
know, finding belonging on the division line between the western world and
the African world. African spirituality is used in this film as a gateway to explore the African
identity and is juxtaposed with a typical western setting, to show the
conflict between modernity and heritage that happens in young bicultural
Jonathan has been up all night, thinking about where he belongs. His parents taught him that blending
in was the only way to be successful, so his whole life he has tried to mould himself to the Western
environment he lived in. This was all he knew, but lately something wasn’t feeling quite right. His alarm
goes off. Spiritless he drags himself out of bed and he starts getting ready for his boring corporate job,
just like every other day. He showers, does his hair, puts on his suit and as he searches for a tie to match
his suit, he finds an old box with a necklace in the back of his closet. He is reluctant at first, but then he
grabs it and is suddenly face to face with 3 imposant people, his ancestors.
Scared by these unfamiliar ancestors, he begins to run. He runs and runs, but wherever he goes, the
ancestors follow. When Jonathan realises there is nowhere to escape to, he tiredly gives in. They begin
performing a ritual on him. They cleanse him with water, paint his face and when Jonathan gets to see
the ancestors from up close, he realises they aren’t so scary and are not trying to hurt him. Jonathan
starts to join in with the rituals and together they perform a ritual dance that makes him feel more and
more comfortable. As the ritual comes to an end, the ancestors gift him a large stack of necklaces and
put them around his neck. They hold each other for a while after which Jonathan notices the ancestors
are gone and he is all alone. In his solitude he starts to realise that, even after this experience, he still
hasn’t found the belonging that he was looking for.
He now understands that he has to find belonging in the fact that he belongs nowhere and takes off
the stack of necklaces. He then finds himself back in his own house with the necklace from before as
the only reminder of the experience he just had. He continues getting ready and puts on the necklace
underneath his shirt. He walks towards the door to leave. However, he hears the music from the ritual
and decides to dance to it instead.
Sacred selfhood is a story about the self and its development. The film is therefore
experienced by the viewer just like the protagonist experiences it. Emotions and
situations are sensible to us all throughout the film. We are not observers of the
protagonist, but fellow travellers in his journey towards belonging. As there is
no dialog, this is the only way we can truly understand what Jonathan is going
In sacred selfhood almost every frame is a ‘painting’ , as messages are
communicated through symbolism that we all understand. This means that the
frames are intentional and visually very communicative.
In the film there is a strong dichotomy between the Western world that Johnathan
is familiar with and the spiritual world that he gets introduced to. It is translated
on the one hand, through traditional corporate attire and a 1970’s middle class
environment that is indistinct and familiar. On the other hand the spiritual world
is mystical, translated through bright colours, an empty, dark environment and
spiritual clothing references. The worlds are tied together through the use of the
colour green, referencing Jonathan’s spiritual growth and the returning silhouette
shots that symbolise identity.
We are looking for actors who can fulfil the roles of Ancestors of the main character Johnatan who struggles with finding his place in the western world being bicultural.
The ancestors come from the spirit world to watch over the people on earth. They reach out to
Jonathan to repair his connection to his heritage. They represent a lineage of thousands of people from
the African diaspora that have been oppressed by western rule throughout history.
The 3 ancestors have been created using research into the Benin empire, the Bakongo and Candomble
and Vodou religions.
- All genders
- Black identity
- Location: Amsterdam, Meervaart theater
- Available for +/- 8 hours (average working day) on Sunday the 9th of July
- No acting or dance experience is required but will be a pro
- Comfortable in front of the camera
- Preferably Randstad, the Netherlands basedPeriode
Available for +/- 8 hours (average working day) on Sunday the 9th of July.
Wat bieden wij?
Since this is a student production with limited budget we can't afford to pay salary. We offer travel expenses and a way to expand and train your professional skills, knowledge and development within the film industry and on set. Reageren / meer informatie
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