Yesterday, The Tribeca Film Festival’s ‘Faces of the Festival’ interview series focused on Alex Mar, director of the new documentary “American Mystic”. The film, which features Pagan priestess Morpheus Ravenna, looks at alternative forms of religion and spirituality in America from three different perspectives, and is one of twelve entries in the festival’s World Documentary Feature Competition for 2010. In the interview, Mar discusses the history of the project, her search for documentary subjects, and the difficulties in finding a modern Pagan practitioner to participate.
“I met with different covens in different parts of the country, and one of the challenges with the pagan element in the film is I needed to find someone brave enough to say, okay, not only am I a witch, and to say that on camera, but I have this coven, I have this group that I practice with, and everyone associated with her had to be brave enough to say, okay, we’re comfortable with this.
In California and maybe in New York, it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal to say that you’re pagan, but obviously being a witch is a big deal in this country. I met with a woman who I thought was so wonderful in Tennessee, and she would have loved to have shared her story but she was terrified. You know, she had seen people lose their jobs, and actually had a friend whose children were taking away from her through child welfare… It was really, I think, all told, six months of going around the country.”
Mar’s obvious sympathy for her subjects, and her willingness to view the world from their perspective, makes me very hopeful that this will be one of the best documentary treatments of modern Paganism by an outsider. I look forward to the opportunity to see this film, and I wish it every success at the Tribeca festival. I urge you to read the entire interview, and if you’re in New York, to go see the documentary.