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Christian Suhr

Descending with Angels

Research output: Other contributionResearch

Islamic exorcism or psychotropic medication?

“Descending with Angels” explores two highly different solutions to the same problem: namely Danish Muslims who are possessed by invisible spirits, called jinn. A Palestinian refugee living in the city of Aarhus has been committed to psychiatric treatment after a severe case of jinn possession which caused him to destroy the interior of a mosque, crash several cars, and insult a number of people. He sees no point in psychotropic medication since his illness has already been treated with Quranic incantations. A psychiatrist and nurse try to understand his point of view but find that even further medication is needed. In the meantime a local imam battles a stubborn jinn-spirit of Iraqi origin and tries to explain the Muslims of Aarhus that they should stop worrying so much about jinn, magic, and other mundane affairs since nothing can harm anyone except by the permission of God. The film compares two systems of treatment that despite vast differences both share a view of healing as operating through submission of faith to an external non-human agency—namely God or biomedicine.

Awarded with the “Special Student Film Award" at the Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival (May 2014)


• SVA Film and Media Festival (AAA, Washington, Dec 2014)
• American Academy of Religion (Special panel about the film, San Diego, Nov 2014)
• Athens Ethnographic Film Festival (November 2014)
• Munich International Ethnographic Film Festival (November 2014)
• Sardinia International Ethnographic Film Festival (Nuoro, Italy, September 2014)
• Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival (May 2014)
• Beeld voor Beeld (Amsterdam, Dec 2013)
• CPH:DOX (Copenhagen, Nov. 2013)
• NAFA Film Festival (Bilbao, October 2013).
• RAI International Ethnographic Film Festival (Edinburgh, June 2013)


• University of California, Berkeley, USA
• University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
• University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
• University of Manchester, UK
• University of Heidelberg, Germany
• Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
• KU Leuven, Belgium
• Atlas Stad Antwerpen, Free Hands, Belgium
• James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
• University of Copenhagen, Denmark
• Aarhus University, Denmark
• Anatomisk Teater in Oslo, Norway
• A number of psychiatric hospitals and cultural centers in Europe

Filmed, edited, and directed by Christian Suhr
Produced by Persona Film, November 2013
Distribution: Documentary Educational Resources (DER, Watertown)
Screening format: DCP / Blu-ray / ProRes / Mpeg4 / DVD / DV SP.
Original format: XDCAM 1080p
Languages: Arabic, Danish, English
Subtitles: English
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2013
Place of publicationWatertown, USA
PublisherDocumentary Educational Ressources (DER, Watertown)
Number of pages75
Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Research areas

  • Islam, Psychiatry, Exorcism, Visual Anthropology , Ethnographic film, Spirit Possession

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