American Mystic
Alex Mar, USA, 2010, 80 min



Set against a vivid backdrop of bucolic rural landscapes, American Mystic weaves together the stories of three young Americans exploring alternative religion. Chuck is a Native American sundancer and new father striving to balance his religious practice and family responsibilities in the South Dakota badlands; Morpheus is a pagan priestess who finds spirituality in the earthy terrain of California mining country; and Kublai explores Spiritualism in upstate New York, a modern incarnation of the area’s storied history of religious revivalism.


Alex Mar’s meditative documentary artfully sews together its subjects’ introspections with the landscapes of their quintessentially American districts. Their reflections are intercut with their work on the farm, drives along deserted highway, and hikes through mountain vistas. Gently applying these tropes of Americana to her story of fringe communities, Mar crafts a poetic tapestry of religious plurality, serving as a complement to prevalent depictions of religious America as homogenous and Christian. Chuck, Morpheus, and Kublai pursue religious insight in disparate, exceptional ways, but are united in a uniquely American vision of transcendence (