Julio Expósito, publicly a successful businessman, owner of an estate agent and a supermarket, but also the author of the books Camino Cósmico (Cosmic Path) and El Secreto del Cosmos (The Secret of the Cosmos) where he discussed his experiences of alien abduction and the enlightenment gained through his contacts, his sudden death has deeply affected the members of the Ovni-Levante Association of UFOlogy which he founded.
Julio’s will naming “Cosmic Pharoah” José Manuel García Martínez as his successor, he is determined to carry out the goals of the organisation, to elevate humanity to a higher level, but his life is in disarray, his once-celebrated clairvoyant mother Carmina now an uncommunicative recluse suffering from Alzheimer’s, his ten year old niece Vanessa missing from home and her mother Charo and twin sister Veronica trying to cope and keep the story in the public eye.
Channelled to corporeal form by writer/director Chema García Ibarra, The Sacred Spirit (Espíritu sagrado) is a tragicomedy observation of a lonely group of socially awkward oddballs who have come together in a shared need to belong, to believe in something bigger than the emptiness of their lives in the Valencian city of Elche, seeking secret knowledge in the mysteries of the pyramids which will grant them meaning, serenity and a gateway to the stars.
The cast largely non-professional, they are led by Nacho Fernández as José Manuel, fumbling through life with a single blank expression, baffled and perplexed without ever becoming anxious about the confusion which is his natural state, finding it easier to be led by others, to be given answers and just accept them without questioning anything himself, the ideal follower of any cult.
Is José Manuel in his devotion to the sacred spirit any different from the zealous pack of power walkers who push past him or those who place their faith in the Catholic Church, in a soccer team, in Brexit or Trump? In a chaotic world, a belief in underlying order and purpose gives comfort, however unfounded, be it religious fervour or a tendency towards conspiracy theories as ridiculous as organised gangs of Eastern European organ harvesters.
Unravelling against the noise of television sets, the critical faculties of the characters drowned out by the constant wash of unlikely promises of the commercials, The Sacred Spirit lacks focus and would benefit from a tighter edit but is pleasingly unique, a sympathetic but sorrowful look at the UFO phenomenon and its cult very different from Skyman, The Vast of Night or Majic.