A new film, Salem Witch Hunt, gives us a clear historical depiction of a time when women, and some men, were executed as suspected witches. Explore recently traveled to Salem to speak with scholars and experts on the witch trials and that time period.
Salem Witch Hunt is an important 30 minute film on one of the most unfortunate events in American history and Puritan life. Although many studied the Salem witchcraft hysteria in their history books, the film uncovers facts that some may not be aware of:
1. Those who confessed were more likely to be spared than those who denied involvement in witchcraft.
2. Men were also killed for witchcraft.
3. The first people persecuted and killed were elderly (60 and 70 years old.)
4. The trails were done according to best English principals at the time, and the fate of the accused was decided by land owning men.
5. Toward the end, the Governor got involved and issued pardons, sparing the lives of a few who were convicted.
The founder of Explore is a filmmaker, philanthropist and storyteller, Charles Annenberg Weingarten, who appears in Salem Witch Hunt speaking to Katherine Howe and other scholars.
Jolie du Pre: What is the most important thing you’d like viewers to gain from Salem Witch Hunt?
Charles Annenberg Weingarten: A driving mantra for us is never stop learning- so this film explores people’s fascination with the occult as seen through the murders in Salem in the 1690s. We walked the grounds and talked to historians and authors, including The New York Times best seller Katherine Howe, about the ordeal to give people a fresh perspective on the witch hunts. I hope it serves as a catalyst for people to think about the nature and power of fear in humanity and how it plays a role in the persecution of others — to this very day. That being said — the beauty of film is the wide range of thoughts, reactions and emotions it can evoke, so I hope people have “a-ha” moments in whatever form.
Explore showcases more than 250 original films and 30,000 photographs from around the world. Their mission is to “champion the selfless acts of others,” “to create a portal into the soul of humanity,” and “to inspire lifelong learning.”
Jolie du Pre: What are your hopes for the future of Explore?
Charles Annenberg Weingarten: We will continue to champion the selfless acts of others and share films, photos and experiences that act as a window into the soul. We’ll continue to give people food for thought from a source they can trust. We’ll also work on ways to inspire lifelong learning while developing more of a community feeling where other people can contribute their experiences from around the world.
Salem Witch Hunt (30 minute free film)
Katherine Howe’s website