True/False Film: The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga isn't really a movie but an experimental journey through the timelessness and adaptation of mythic folktales, a rich, creamy 16mm collage of real, present day Eastern European culture next to dreamy storybook illustrations of a collective conscious, a sketch of naturalistic traditions that have continued beyond post-war culture & against the conflicting ideas of progress. It's the type of atmospheric film that imparts a meaning or sense of purpose through feeling instead of story. Because of this reason it is very difficult to write about- the images speak clearly for themselves. Film is always intangible but this one danced out of the projector and floated off like a thoughtful bedtime story that embeds itself in your subconscious, seeping into your dreams.

There were really well illustrated, graphic novel-like sequences whose images and calm voiceover relayed the tale of the traditional folk villian Baba Yaga, whose home is a hut that resides on the giant legs of a chicken. These sections mirrored the changing view of some communities in Eastern Europe, the deep dark woods originally a place of supernatural fear but evolving into a much more complex symbol during the war; a place to forage, a place to hide, a place to live. These drawn episodes were interspersed with tender contemporary footage of things like children eating mushrooms prepared by their grandparents, a bawdy wedding, the (re?)construction of sleek architecture- fluid scenes of present day Eastern European countries that nodded to the legacy from which they came.

There were also passages of writing (that I was a little confused about the origins of? And that someone tried to clarify in the post-screening Q&A but the director was battling a cold so I think the question was a little foggy...) that seemed like excerpts from relevant texts but that I can't clearly remember...and this unreliable remembrance of the film is what I think was the point: a slow, ephemeral patchwork to give pause and create an impression of the idea of Eastern Europe, a culture we think we know little about but is as universal as most human experience and the myths we use to explain it.

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga Teaser from Myriapod Productions on Vimeo.

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga Teaser from Myriapod Productions on Vimeo.



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.