The witching hour is almost upon us! This November (3 – 25) we welcome a season of films and talks that examine and celebrate the witch on screen. From well-known classics, forgotten favourites and new discoveries, we delve into the psyche and stereotype of one of cinema’s most complex and compelling characters: the witch.
Reclaiming the Witch is curated by Thea Berry, a student at the University of West of England who is splitting her time between UWE and Watershed whilst studying for an MA in Curating, mentored by Cinema Curator Mark Cosgrove and the wider Watershed team.
The season opens with The Wizard of Oz, made 80 years ago, it remains a timeless classic. Thea Berry will introduce the screening - reframing and contextualising the film by moving the focus away from Dorothy and onto the Wicked Witch of the West, shining a new light onto such an iconic character.
We caught up with Thea to ask what inspired her to create the season. She says:
“During the final semester of my Masters I was asked to curate a project with my partner organisation Watershed. After re-watching The Witches of Eastwick, months before I had even started the course, I knew I wanted to curate a retrospective of witches in cinema. My aim was to produce a season that was fun, and would provoke discussion, be engaging and culturally and politically relevant."
"Against a backdrop of Trump, #MeToo, the Women’s March and the increasing rise in young people engaging with feminism and politics, I see the witch as the perfect vehicle for conversation. The mix of classic and contemporary cinema in this season aims to attract audiences from different generations and encourage them to rediscover witches in cinema.”
The season is an ideal opportunity to fall under the spell of a cinematic coven: from The Wizard of Oz, to The Witches' terrifying Grand High Witch, to I Am Not a Witch's little 9-year-old Shula to the witch in training of Kiki's Delivery Service and even Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer giving it their all in The Witches of Eastwick, there's more witchy fun here than you can shake a broomstick at.
Want to delve a bit deeper into the witch on screen and look at the inner workings of a character that has captivated and intrigued filmmakers and audiences alike for decades? Don't miss our Exploring The Witch panel discussion with writer and curator Anna Bogutskaya (The Final Girls), film critic Kelli Weston (Sight and Sound) and Dr Shelley Cobb (University of Southampton), chaired by Watershed Cinema Producer, Tara Judah.
The witch as we know is wily and wicked and has returned to our screens time and again. Reclaiming the Witch perfectly complements the release of Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria, which opens here on Fri 16 Nov. Guadagnino has made a spellbinding look at corruption, innocence, and female power that expertly blends filmmaking, dance and performance into a delicious, dark - and feminist - reimagining of Argent's original.
Please do join us throughout November to help us fall under the spell and reclaim the witch.