Screened as part of NZIFF 2015

Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses 2015

Directed by David Stubbs

This impressive doco disperses the fog of shame and sensationalism to shed light on the tragedy that made international headlines in 2007 when a young Wainuiomata woman died during a mākutu lifting.

88 minutes CinemaScope/DCP
M (content may disturb)

Director, Screenplay

Producers

David Stubbs
,
Thomas Robins

Photography

Mathew Knight

Editor

Bradley Warden

Production designer

Ra Vincent

Music

Rhian Sheehan

Interviewees

Tusha Penny
,
Rees Tapsell
,
Pouroto Ngaropo
,
Tamati Cairns
,
Heather Kavan
,
Grant Burston

With

Kura Forrester (Janet)
,
William Davis (John)
,
Tina Cook (Glenys)
,
Hariata Moriarty (teenage girl)

In October 2007, 22-year-old Janet Moses died and a 14-year-old female relation was hospitalised during a mākutu lifting in the Wellington suburb of Wainuiomata. In 2009 nine members of Janet's family, all siblings of her mother or their spouses, were charged in relation to her tragic death. Their trial was reported around the world and widely portrayed as a head-on-head collision of Western law and traditional belief. In Belief, David Stubbs, a pākehā filmmaker who grew up in Wainuiomata, proceeds with impressive tact and sensitivity to understand and describe just what happened. He weaves together witness interviews, items of public record and re-enactments to draw us into the nightmare experienced by Janet and her whanau. Invoking traditions they haven’t entirely mastered, they are consumed by their anxiety to rescue her from the torments of her illness. The escalation of dread and conviction that enveloped them progresses incrementally and so convincingly in Stubbs’ telling that rational disbelief at what occurred is no longer an option. Dramatic without ever relishing drama for its own sake, this is a persuasive and moving picture of humanity in extremis.