COLUMBIA, Mo. (RNS) Daniel Vernon wanted to make a documentary about farmers and their spiritual connection to the land.
What he ended up with was a film rich in faith and in lore: “Miraculous Tales.”
The film, set in Ireland, lives up to its name. There are stories of folklore cures, a priest people flock to for prayers, a passionate preacher, and an old man who experiences his own miraculous moment.
It’s one of many films showing at the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Mo., Feb. 27 – March 2. The annual festival brings filmmakers and directors from around the world together in mid-Missouri.
Columbia Faith & Values spoke with Vernon from his home in Brighton, England, before the festival to find out more about this film. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How did you get the idea for this film?
A: I was interested in making a film about farmers’ connection to their land – a sort of spiritual connection, one that maybe was slightly different than a religious connection with the land. I was searching for it, and I wondered if it was just a needle in the haystack because it was more of a concept than something I’d actually come across.
So I went to Ireland. But still, after a month or so, I hadn’t quite found what I was looking for. But then, it was actually a farmer’s wife I met, who – she suddenly dashed out of the house after a phone call. And I said to the farmer I was drinking tea with, I said, “Where is she off to, your wife?”
And he said, “Oh, she’s got to go and stop some bleeding.”
And I was like, oh, OK, “What, is she a nurse?”
“No, no, she’s not a nurse, no not at all.”
I said, “OK, well why is she doing this? Stopping this bleeding?”
And he said, “Oh, she has the cure.”
And that’s when I first heard about the cure. And the cure is essentially – you may have heard about the charm or the gift – it’s a way of healing people that goes back, actually pre-dates Christianity, some call it a pagan belief system. And it’s essentially a prayer – sometimes people use props as well. They are people that have powers, I guess, to fix things.
Q: Why do you think this story is so important to tell?
A: Well, I mean, I guess this is a disappearing world. It seems that people with problems and ailments, the obvious answer now is pills or modern medicine, and you know, over there – I mean I’m not saying they don’t use modern medicine over there – but people tend to look for other ways of healing. And you know the other thing is that sometimes those doctors and pills and whatever – they can’t fix things.
So, what do you do, when you’re in that position? Even if you didn’t believe in something to begin with, you’re open to everything.
To be honest, it’s the first time I’ve seen true altruism in ordinary people. I mean, you see it all the time in charity groups and organizations, but to have ordinary people who have full time jobs – you know, they’re farmers, they’re 80-year-old farmers, or they’re teachers, who rake time out to help a stranger, I thought it was quite a beautiful thing in this day and age.
Q: What’s your background, spiritually speaking?
I’ve always kept a corner of my mind open to something, which I think is, to me, it feels the only way to live – because there’s no answer, is there, really. And so, to be honest, the experience I had over there was quite incredible. I would say I’m on the fence about, you know, being a religious person. But certainly, the power of what these people do was quite striking. And I don’t know what it is or where it comes from, and even if it’s something that’s not connected with religion or anything supernatural, then it’s still something I feel that’s quite special, and the world’s a much richer place for it.
This story was produced in partnership with KBIA 91.3 FM, and is part of the 2014 True/False Conversations Series.