Yang

Alisa Yang: Sleeping With the Devil, film still from experimental documentary, 2016

Alisa Yang’s mother — a devotee of the evangelical Christian movement — towed her teenage daughter to two or three churches every weekend. Alisa wanted to fit in, so she led a weekly Bible study, went on mission trips, and even avoided secular rock music. But she could not hear God’s voice, nor was she able to speak in tongues, so she started asking questions in an attempt to connect to whatever was missing from her faith. “Then I asked too many questions and eventually realized it wasn’t real,” Yang said. “It was a rude awakening.” She told her mother that she no longer believed in God. That is when the exorcisms began.

“When my mom used to take me to these exorcisms, sometimes she would trick me, saying that we were going to get lunch, but instead I was ushered into a long session involuntarily,” Yang recalled. These sessions came after a lifetime of abuse and abandonment. Yang’s father, who divorced her mother when Yang was quite young, used to lock her in a bathroom for hours on end. She once went two weeks without food, and she also endured sexual abuse. Her mother had given her away, but Yang was returned when she was thirteen years old.

In an effort to confront what she called her overbearing religious background, which also included visits to prophets and faith healers, Yang agreed to let her mother pay for one more exorcism — which was performed via Skype by Bob Larson of the Spiritual Freedom Church, a Denver-based organization with national and international affiliates. Yang made Sleeping With the Devil, a short experimental documentary about the exorcism experience, when she was in graduate school. Initially she did not intend to show it publicly, but friends encouraged her to enter it in festivals in order to share her story. “My heart still races every time I watch it with a live audience. I feel incredibly vulnerable,” she said. Sleeping With the Devil is included in the Currents New Media lineup of short experimental documentaries, screening Wednesday, June 14, and Wednesday, June 21, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at Violet Crown.