Hot Docs Review: Coven (Rama Rau, 2022)


Witches and witchcraft have been a fairly common element across many cultures while also having a fairly constant presence within popular culture over the years. And while witchcraft has often been associated with evil and darkness, there has also been a growing trend over the years of women who are drawn to witchcraft as a way of reclaiming their power in this world and finding a greater sense of self. Coven is a portrait of three such women as they go on their journey, with each one following her own unique path.

That journey takes them to New Orleans, Scotland, and Romania respectively and while each of these women have their own personal reasons for entering the world of witchcraft, there are some common themes. Aside from the notion of becoming a witch as a way to push back against the patriarchy, there’s also a strong sense that each of them see it a way to make a deeper connection with their past, with two of the women looking into making connections with their past lives and all of them finding a deeper cultural connection to witchcraft.

“I think also it’s become a trend,” says Ayo Leilani, aka Witch Prophet, at one point in regards to the growing popularity of witchcraft amongst some women. “It’s cool. Okay, but … this is real. This is real.”

At this point, I’m sure there were probably a few viewers thinking, “Is it, though?” For those of us with a strong skeptical streak, it’s hard to take all of this talk of witchcraft at face value. To her credit, director Rama Rau never does question the veracity of her subjects’ beliefs as that’s not really the point of this documentary.

It’s less important whether all of this is real or not and more important that what these women are getting out of their connection to witchcraft is absolutely real. There’s something that these women gain from this that changes each of their lives considerably. Whether you’re a witch or not, going on a journey of self discovery and finding a deeper connection to something is a notion we can all relate to.

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs