Hot Docs 2015 has been a whirlwind of stunning films so far – while comedies like FINDERS KEEPERS and DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON have been comedic highlights, admittedly I find buy levitra online us myself drawn frequently to the dark. And Dalia Al Kury’s POSSESSED BY DJINN, about a Jordanian man who beheads his youngest daughter believing her to be possessed by a folkloric creature that most western audiences (myself included) likely only know about viagra buy online cheap from the Wes Craven-produced WISHMASTER series, was an early bookmark in my Hot Docs schedule. A personal film about faith, family and the enabling potential of both, POSSESSED BY DJINN introduced me not only to an enigmatic facet of Islamic belief but to a critical new voice in the documentary landscape. I had get viagra without prescription the opportunity to grab a few minutes with Dalia Al Kury to talk about the film on the eve of her Toronto Premiere.


Kier-La Janisse: Can you explain about the Djinn, what it is, how generic viagra many there are?

Dalia Al Kury: Sure – Djinn are supernatural creatures that re mentioned in the Qur’an several times, and they are supposed to exist in a parallel universe. They have free will, they marry, they have children, they get sick – they have a totally parallel life very similar to that of humans. There is a bit of controversy over whether levitra 20mg side effects or not they can interfere in our lives. Muslims have not agreed on that because it wasn’t clarified in the Qur’an. So there’s a lot of room for interpretation. And so, also there is no clear statement in the Qur’an that says they can possess people, so there’s a lot of controversy about that too. And it’s believed that they far predate the Qur’an; people have always believed in the Djinn. And so when the Qur’an came, some say that some of the Djinn heard Mohammed speak about Islam and they have read the Qur’an and converted to Islam. So there’s good Djinn and bad Djinn. And we are supposed to stay far away from them, not interfere with them or use them for our benefit, because of course there’s Sulayman – or King Solomon in Christianity – who actually used the Djinn for lots of different purposes. And then when Islam came, they made it so the Djinn cannot steal secrets from the skies and give them to fortune tellers. Because mostly the Djinn were used to tell fortunes and to hurt other people, kind of like black magic and voodoo and stuff like that.

KJ: Yes, because in your film there seem to be a lot of conflicting views about what they can do, and even the primary murder that the film starts and ends with, when the idea of possession by a Djinn first came up, I thought they were talking about the daughter, that he thought the daughter was possessed by a Djinn. But then other people spoke as though he was the one possessed by the Djinn. Even when you talk to the various healers and psychiatrists and they’re taking about schizophrenics having a lot of the same characteristics, I was confused as to which one they thought was the Djinn – the one who thinks someone else is the Djinn is the possessed one?

DAK: Oh, that’s so funny. Usually they say the one who is possessed by Djinn, they can also see that other world. But if you’re not possessed by Djinn, you can’t see Djinn. But of course when you’re possessed you don’t know you’re possessed. And he thought his girl was possessed because he was beating her and she was laughing or something like that. That’s what he claims, nobody was in the room when that happened.

KJ: And is ‘Satan’ a name that is used interchangeably with ‘Djinn’?

DAK: No, Satan is a Djinn.

KJ: The idea that keeps coming up throughout the film is that having these beliefs makes it very easy for people to blame things on the Djinn.

DAK: Exactly, it’s a scapegoat.

KJ: But it just seems like anything, it wasn’t just a case of possession, it was also things like bad vibes or negative energy were seen as the Djinn influencing things.

DAK: Well, not exactly, not bad energy.

KJ: But there was a point where you are in the film and you go see this healer and he tells you that you have a bad energy attached to you, that you are being affected by the Djinn.

DAK: Ah, you mean ‘Hasad’, which is a kind of envy, like the evil eye. Some people think that the evil eye is fixated on you through the Djinn. You know, like if I envy you, then you start feeling down or sick because there’s negative energy around you.

KJ: That was one of the things I found most interesting about the film – that someone being envious of you can bring about health problems for you.

D: But that’s a HUGE belief, EVERYONE believes that in the Middle East.

Djinn 2t

Dalia Al Kury

KJ: Tell me about the woman who is the reporter, who seems like a feisty feminist. How difficult is it in that environment to be a feminist?

DAK: It’s not that difficult, not at all. I really hope the film doesn’t give the impression that all Arabs or all Jordanians have fathers who kill their daughters thinking they’re possessed. I really hope people know this is a very particular case. But it’s telling – the way the murder was handled and the way society did accept it – that is telling. But not the murder itself, that is a very rare case.

KJ: She just seems significantly less traditional than a lot of other people you talk to.

DAK: Well, I had to talk to a lot of traditional people because the subject itself it rooted in tradition. But there are so many people like her.

KJ: A friend of mine was just shooting a film in Jordan, working with a largely Jordanian crew. How much of a film industry is there?

DAK: It’s amazing, over the last ten years the Royal Film Commission have managed to get tons of films related to the Middle East – a lot of them are shot in Jordan, Tunis or Morocco. Any films that are set in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine – they are all shot in Jordan because we now have a very professional team. I highly recommend shooting there.

KJ: So with your own journey through the film, were you going into the film believing in the Djinn or not, and did that change in the course of making the film?

DAK: I’ll tell you – I did not believe in the Djinn when I started. Then I became so engrossed in meeting all these exorcists and I spent so much time around them that it got to me, and I started feeling paranoid about lots of things and I started to think that maybe I had been hurt by the Djinn. But when Aya’s father was released from prison I just felt like that was a wakeup call. In reality there is so much corruption and so much shit going on that it’s not the Djinn, of course it’s not the Djinn! I’m just having a bad day because it’s exhausting to spend so much time with people who believe in things you don’t believe in, and you want to be respectful, so you get wrapped up in it. And now, I cannot say that the Djinn does not exist, of course, I would never have the authority to say that, but I can say that in the five years I was doing this I have not once witnessed anything that remotely looked like a real possession.  I do believe that people can envy eachother and somebody’s energy can be so negative that you go down, and you can call it ‘Djinn’, or ‘Hasad’, or people call it all kinds of things in different cultures. This is a very universal topic.


POSSESSED BY DJINN plays Hot Docs again on Thursday April 30 – 7:30pm  and Friday May 1 – 4:15pm. Details and tickets HERE.

POSSESSED BY DJINN by Dalia Al Kury // Trailer from Lichtblick Film on Vimeo.

About the author:

Kier-La Janisse

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer, publisher, producer, acquisitions executive for Severin Films and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. She is the author of Cockfight: A Fable of Failure (2024), House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (2012/2022) and A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (2007) and has been an editor on numerous books including Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive (2021) and Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (2015). She wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021), and produced the acclaimed blu-ray box sets All the Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium of Folk Horror (2021) and The Sensual World of Black Emanuelle (2023).


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