In my recent round-up of 2011’s top stories there were many topics I wanted to cover, that I thought were important, but couldn’t include for the sake of brevity. One of those stories was the rise of independent Pagan filmmakers in 2011, a phenomenon that Pagan media critic Peg Aloi mentions in her own round-up of 2011.
“Indie Pagan Cinema makes its mark. From the ambitious music-based SPIRIT OF ALBION (with songs by Damh the Bard) to the spooky, blood-soaked, folklore-laden horror flick CALL OF THE HUNTER, there’ve been a lot of great attempts to bring paganism into the theatres. There is also AMERICAN MYSTIC, a fascinating documentary by Alex Mar (interviewed here by Jason Pitzl-Waters) about alternative spirituality which profiles an African-American Spiritualist, a Native American Sundancer, and a Caucasian Wiccan priestess.”
Perhaps the highest profile Pagan-produced film might be the still-in-pitch-phase adaptation of Starhawk’s novel “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” a project that managed to raise over $75,000 in small donations from supporters. At the kick-off of that fundraiser I noted the growing number of movies produced and directed by Pagans and occultists.
“Films made by and for modern Pagans is a newly emerging phenomenon. Recently, film projects like “Our Pagan Heart,” “Dark of Moon,” “Tarology,” “The Spirit of Albion,” and the recently completed “To Dream of Falling Upwards” have woven explicit Pagan and occult themes into visual storytelling. Considering the popularity of Starhawk’s novel, this may be the biggest project of its kind to ever be undertaken. We’ll keep you posted as things develop on this project.”
Now, at the beginning of 2012, there are three projects, out now, or being released soon, that we’ll get to consider as we look at the growth of indie Pagan and occult film-making. First, Taliesin Govannon’s “Dark of Moon,” which was released on DVD at the beginning of December. Govannon describes “Dark of Moon” as film “about friends, lovers, and choices. It’s also filled with Pagans.”
Next up, scheduled for its premier in February, is Antero Alli’s “Flamingos.” An “outlaw romance noir” that features “two enigmatic entities from the Bardo interzones” who “take interest in” the fates of the main characters.
Alli, a prolific indie director, released the well-received Thelemic-themed occult comic drama “To Dream of Falling Upwards” in 2011 (and which I was supposed to review, but it somehow kept getting pushed aside, a condition I’ll try to correct soon). Finally, we have a trailer for “The Spirit of Albion,” due out on DVD in May.
The question isn’t when there will be an oeuvre of independent “Pagan” of “occult” films made or overseen by practitioners, as it is happening now, as we speak. The real question is will these film resonate with our interconnected communities, and will these directors, producers, and performers, find enough support to continue doing this work? If, like Starhawk’s planned film, we are willing to support these efforts, we could see a real flowering of films that speak our language, understand our concerns, and reflect our struggles. A healthy culture needs vibrant artists to help shape our sense of ourselves and our values, and while the budgets may be small, these films seem to be moving us in the right direction.