In the Tiny Town Where Millions Claim They Have Felt the Presence of the Virgin Mary, One Filmmaker Seeks to Debunk a Hoax
The population of Medjugorje hovers at just over 2,000, but the village is visited by millions each year in search of an unearthly sense of peace. The new documentary Apparition Hill explores the psychology behind this journey through the eyes of seven people who visited the Bosnia-Herzegovina town through a video contest and crowd-funding campaign.
Through the unique casting process, Florida-based filmmaker Sean Bloomfield (If Only We Had Listened, The Triumph) received 170 entries and then sent the cast and crew off to discover whether the diverse group could, in fact, see apparitions of the Virgin Mary, as visitors to Medjugorje have claimed since 1981.
The documentary subjects include a young mother battling stage IV cancer, a Cape Breton resident with ALS, an agnostic Chicago police officer and a heroin addict, among others.
Watch the trailer for Apparition Hill:
"Possible explanations for a sensed presence include the motion of boats, atmospheric or geomagnetic activity, and altered sensations and states of consciousness induced by changes in brain chemistry," explained Knox College psychology professor Frank T. McAndrew.
The Roman Catholic Church continues to stoke controversy by refusing to weigh in on the potential hoax. But the filmmaker was more interested in documenting the supernatural phenomenon that occured with his team, even the non-believers.
"Whether or not it’s true, it still makes for a thought-provoking film when real people, who don’t necessarily believe in God or Mary, witness phenomena that none of us understands. The conversations and revelations paint a picture of humanity that is really hopeful," Bloomfield said.
“We didn’t set out to create a film about life and death,” he added. “But when you draw seven people from different backgrounds together, you can’t help but explore what’s truly in people’s hearts. This project turned into a fascinating experience that shows just how much we all have in common."
Watch an exclusive clip from Apparition Hill: