11/30/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

Cinemas to Enchant Audiences this Winter with the Revival of Welsh Witchcraft on Screen

With the support of Film Hub Wales (FHW), cinemas across Wales will explore the timeless magic of Wales on screen this winter, bringing spells, spirits and folklore to Welsh audiences, through a season of films and events about Welsh witchcraft.

 

Activities launch at Pontio Arts Centre in Bangor on the 28th October, where their ‘Witches Sabbath’ weekend will welcome Mari Elen Jones from Gwrachod Heddiw, an award-winning podcast which celebrates Welsh women and their connections to witchcraft. Over the weekend, guests will also include director, Ffion Pritchard, of new short Welsh film Annwn, about a talented young witch and illustrator Efa Lois who specialises in folklore, flowers and Welsh witches. The live, Welsh language, video podcast will explore the character of the Witch in cinema, the history of witchcraft in Wales, its revival and the modern Welsh witch.

 

Off Y Grid, a network of seven venues across North Wales (including Pontio), that collaborate to bring the best British independent and international cinema to Welsh audiences, will host a second live podcast about horror cinema and Witches, with a screening of Gaspar Noe’s experimental horror film Lux Aeterna. Both events will be recorded live and made available to cinemas across Wales with the support of funding from FHW’ Made in Wales (MIW) strand, which celebrates films with Welsh connections. Audiences can enjoy a series of witchcraft themed films at their local cinema, such as Gwledd, St Maud and Rungano Nyoni’s I am not a Witch, which reaches it 5th anniversary in October.

 

In Wales, five people were executed for ‘crimes’ of witchcraft. Drawing on Celtic roots and a deep connection with the environment, ‘rituals’, ‘prayers’, ‘blessings’ and non-Christian religious spiritual practises were familiar to Welsh people who practised dewiniaeth or magic at that time, that it was easy to tell apart real witchcraft apart from the accusations. In the following centuries, forced assimilation into Christianity and stricter laws around speaking Welsh, pressured generations to give up more of their cultural heritage and practices of dewiniaeth slowly faded.

 

Radha Patel, Film Hub Wales’ Made in Wales Officer explains why FHW encourage audiences to learn about the history of witchcraft:

“Today, a new generation of young, Welsh witches are emerging and revisiting their cultural practices and heritage. Wales’ unique spiritual connection to land, community centred society and common-sense saved thousands of women from being unnecessarily killed by superstition. In the future, what life-changing moments could be inspired by this new revival in Celtic spiritualty? We believe that film can help us to explore and answer these questions.”

 

Emyr Williams, Cinema Coordinator at Pontio Arts Centre, Bangor adds:

 

”Horror Cinema was never made to be watched on your own – a communal experience of terror is something we strive to offer our audiences. Our Witches themed weekend in Pontio allows us the opportunity to show brilliant horror films and engage directly with our audience’s interests, by recording two bilingual podcasts in in front of a live audience. We have invited experts to discuss Witchcraft in all its forms, from questioning cinematic representation and gender stereotyping to re-examining Welsh mythology and social history, as well as imagining how Witches are adapting to the digital age.”

 

Ffion Pritchard, Director of ‘Annwn’ concluded:

 

“‘Witch’ was once a death sentence for women outside the social norms – disabled women, single women, childless women. Now, so many of us turn to its traditions. The films and conversations in this line up prove these experiences are far from rare and part of a wider movement of reclaiming womanhood and heritage in artistic and spiritual contexts in an exciting cultural moment for Wales. These stories deserve to be seen and told anew. The visual majesty of the old myths deserves a big screen experience – so where could be a better place to reinvent ancient tales, than at your local cinema?”

 

MIW offers a host of year-round activities in partnership with Welsh exhibitors, including a film catalogue which hosts over 600 shorts and features with Welsh connections.

 

MIW is made possible thanks to funding from Creative Wales, along with support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery. FAN offers support to exhibitors across the whole of the UK, to boost cultural programming and engage diverse audiences. Funds in Wales are administered by FHW via Chapter as the Film Hub Lead Organisation.

 

More than £30M is raised each week for good causes across the UK by the National Lottery.

Welsh Witchcraft Events

Pontio, Bangor
28th – 31st October

A Witches Sabbath – A weekend long event featuring double bill screenings of Welsh horrors, international classics and Q&A’s with invited speakers about ‘the modern witch’, asking ‘is horror cinema a positive or negative force for female representation on screen?’

SeeMôr Film Festival, Anglesey

29th – 30th October
The Ucheldre Centre will be celebrating Halloween with a lantern making workshop and a trick or treat procession on Saturday, followed by screenings of Gwledd (The Feast) and St. Maud on Sunday.

Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli
21st October – 3rd November
Screenings of Gwledd (The Feast), The Witches (1990) and Annwn alongside a recording of ‘Gwrachod Heddiw’ featuring Mari Elen Jones, Efa Lois and Ffion Pritchard. The Witches will be accompanied by craft and story sessions for young children led by Mair Tomos Ifans, about local witches in Pwllheli.

Wicked Wales, Rhyl
20th – 23rd October
As part of their annual film festival, audiences in Rhyl can attend an exciting wand making workshop followed by screenings of Harry Potter, Annwn and I am Not a Witch on Sunday 23rd.

 

Chapter, Cardiff

22nd October – 6th November
Alongside BFI’s ‘In Dreams are Monsters’ featuring films about ‘the evolution of monsters and ‘the monsters within’, Chapter are hosting a range of films exploring Welsh Witchcraft including Gwledd, The Witches, St Maud and Haxan which unpacks the myth of the witch as a tool of oppression throughout Europe.

 

Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells

9th – 23rd November

As part of their ‘Community Drop In’, Wyeside Arts Centre will host a screening of Annwn followed by Gwrachod Heddiw’s discussion on the modern Welsh Witch. Audiences can stop by once again on the 23rd for a recording of the second discussion, led by Off Y Grid, all about the wider history of women as Witches in cinema.

Dates subject to change – see cinema websites. Further venues and dates to be announced.

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