Where to begin? A whole film about some disputes in the Christian world about hell—where it is, what it's like, who goes there, why they go there, and how long they go for. We hear from pastors, fanatics, evangelicals, monks, priests, and even an exorcist (the best part of this documentary—"Hell is real because demons are trying to flee it all the time"). Set against the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Hellbound? is well made and the narrator is as open-minded as possible. My problem with the film has nothing to do with its form but its content: All of this energy, technology, and time is spent going on and on about a post-death place a bunch of apes dreamed up in the dusty old days of Rome and Egypt.
The universe was not made for us, nor was it made for cows or whales or chickens or bats. We are all here by accident, and we are all going the way of the dinosaurs. All of our efforts, hopes, and achievements will be erased in time. Nothing comes after death. The universe is expanding at a faster and faster rate. The galaxies we see in the sky are in the bumps that expanded from quantum jitters. Matter is only energy converted into mass. Is heaven made of matter? Is hell? Does Satan have teeth and a digestive system? Did a snake talk to a naked woman and man? Enough of this nonsense. Humans are associations of cells that descended from free-living bacteria. Bacteria are as holy as you will ever get in this world, if not this universe. They've been around for 3.6 billion years. They will still be here long after we and our cats and dogs are gone. Let's make documentaries about bacteria. SIFF Cinema at the Film Center, Oct 19–25.