Spirit of My Mother

Sonia (Johana Martinez), a young Honduran woman working as a maid in Los Angeles, is disturbed by dreams of her dead mother beckoning her to return home. Her life as a single mother in the U.S. is bleak and disappointing, and the film's handling of it borders on the amateurish. But once Sonia arrives on the east coast of Honduras among the Garifuna, a mix of West Africans and Carib Indians, the film acquires a poetic (if uneven) tone. Its raison d'etre seems to be the Dugu, an elaborate West African ritual that appeases the spirit of the dead; Sonia's extended family cook a feast by the sea, sing and dance, pray to tribal gods, and follow up with a Catholic mass. The story of a woman reclaiming her tribal roots recalls Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, though this 1998 feature by Ali Allie is less lyrical and more modest in scope.

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