Returning Souls


In the historically most famous ancestral house of the matrilineal Amis tribe in Taiwan, the carved pillars tell legends. After a strong typhoon toppled the house 40 years ago, the pillars were moved to the Institute of Ethnology Museum. Recently young villagers, with assistance from female shamans, pushed the descendants and village representatives to communicate with ancestors in the pillars. They eventually brought the ancestral souls (rather than the pillars) back and began reconstructing the house. This documentary interweaves reality and legends as well as the seen and the unseen as it records this unique case of repatriation.

Region of Origin

Year of Release



85 minutes


DV, Color


Hu Tai-Li Thumbnail

Hu Tai-Li

Hu Tai-li was a renowned documentary filmmaker, film festival programmer, and anthropologist in Taiwan. She was a research fellow and director at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, as well as a concurrent professor at the Institute of Anthropology, National Tsing Hua University. She was also the president of Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival. She has directed and produced nine documentary films (The Return of Gods and Ancestors, Songs of Pasta’ay, Voices of Orchid Island, Passing Through My Mother-in-law’s Village, Sounds of Love and Sorrow, Encountering Jean Rouch, Stone Dream, After Passing, and Returning Souls).