Back to Films

THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA

Synopsis

Within a dense forest there lingers a sense of sinister foreboding, remnants of a nearly forgotten story, where the fairy tales of childhood persist within the subconscious. For generations of Slavic peoples, this fear manifested itself in the form of the mythical witch Baba Yaga - to roam too near her hut perched on chicken legs was to risk being roasted for her dinner.

In spite of this culturally ingrained dread, the turbulence of war, famine, and destruction that stains the pages of Eastern European history led to the witch’s figurative vanquishing. Refugees fled to her woods for shelter, nourishment and sanctuary, and in so doing, reshaped an entire culture's perception of nature.

This transition was slow and unconscious, and is best told through the stories of the region – the memories of those who experienced periods of warfare first-hand as well as the recollections that have passed generation to generation. To bring these stories to life, we have merged countless accounts into a single, unified narrative – an animated fairy tale that gathers history, folklore, and memory into one.


This fairy tale is intertwined with an anthropological exploration of modern day, post-conflict Eastern Europe. Combining these elements, THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA is about more than a single moment in history. It is about the accumulation of history, the accumulation of repetitive action, the retelling of stories retold, the retention of belief, and the unconscious osmosis of ideas. It is a study of collective, social memory and how it shapes our interactions with the world around us.

Connect

Learn more about THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA:

The Filmmakers

Jessica Oreck Director

Jessica Oreck makes projects large and small that instill a sense of wonder and invite viewers to question their relationship with the natural world. Jessica’s most recent feature-length documentary, AATSINKI: THE STORY OF ARCTIC COWBOYS, premiered in competition at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Her first film, the award-winning BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO, played theatrically around the world and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens series. Jessica is currently in post-production on a new feature film and several short animated projects, including the recently released web series, MYSTERIES OF VERNACULAR.

THE LATEST FROM @JessicaOreck ON TWITTER

Why was #braille invented by one of Napoleon's troops? Find out in @TED_ED's new "In a Moment of Vision"!… https://t.co/amZfdaPnJN

March 9, 2017

Learn how #superglue saved lives in Vietnam before it was a household item in @TED_ED's new "In a Moment of Vision"… https://t.co/EAdGJnJjga

February 6, 2017

Just keeping myself distracted from the real world. My favorites from this last batch. https://t.co/Bcawxwickz

February 6, 2017

Follow @JessicaOreck

Festivals & Awards

New Directors/New Films

2014

Official Selection

True/False

2014

Official Selection

Hot Docs International Film Festival

2014

Official Seleciton

Reviews

A poetic, mesmerizing fusion of fairy tale and cultural commentary.”

-Variety

To call Oreck’s film ‘hypnotic’ would be too easy.”

-Slant Magazine

Unusual and intoxicating”

-Screen Daily

Ravishing”

-Twitch Film

Original and unforgettable…an altogether new kind of art.”

-Fandor

Cinematically supernatural”

-IonCinema