Hot Docs ’23: Coven

Directed by Rama Rau, Coven follows three women who identify as witches as they step out looking for mentors. Travelling all over the world, the young women are seeing a deeper connection within themselves, nature and each other. Along the way, they discover (and grapple with) incredible pieces of their past that help them understand their history and their place in the present.

In many ways, Coven is a film about reconnecting with your past. As they inch closer to their identity as witches, each young woman must first reconnect with their own family history. For some, this yields shocking results that reveal their wiccan history. For others, it involves deconstructing their childhood upbringing in order to step forward into the future. Whatever their issue, each story reveals the power of the past and the ways that it can affect who we are in the present. 

What’s most interesting about Rau’s film, however, is the ways that she ties Wiccan theology to feminism. Coven highlights the ways that masculine patriarchy has, both in past and present, oppressed women and ‘robbed women of control over their bodies’. What’s more, as these young women delve more deeply into witch culture, they discover the feminine strength that lies within them. There is an attitude of empowerment within their discovery that gives them the confidence they need to stand up against the patriarchy. 

However, according to Rau Wicca isn’t about gaining power ‘over’ others but rather receiving ‘power with’. This form of strength comes through their connection to one another, allowing them to draw strength from one another. In Coven, women are elevated when they empower one another rather than attempt to dominate. For these young women, their identity as witches helps them rediscover who they are and who they can be.

Coven premiered at HotDocs ’23. For more information, click here.

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