Arts & Culture

Witch trial-inspired film enchants IFF audiences

‘The Sisterhood of Night’ tells dark story of clandestine network of teenage girls

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, April 10, 2015

“Sisterhood of Night” was screened prior to a question-and-answer session Wednesday as part of the Ivy Film Festival.

Exploring the relationship between paranoia, exclusion and the perilous terrain of adolescent friendship, “The Sisterhood of Night” kept audiences in suspense in its premier Wednesday, the third day of the Ivy Film Festival.

The film, written by Marilyn Fu and directed by Caryn Waechter, is set in the quiet town of Kingston, New York and features a modern-day Salem witch trial premise. The story centers on the teenage members of a clandestine network called the Sisterhood of Night led by a girl named Mary Warren, played by Georgie Henley.

Emily, a girl who is bitter about her exclusion from the Sisterhood of Night, lies about the group’s activities and posts various blogs and comments to get back at it. After Emily gains over 20,000 followers on her gossip blog, a band of girls begins to side with her, saying they were sexually violated while part of the group. Her fabrications portray the Sisterhood of Night as a sex cult, spurring authorities and family members to press the girls to reveal what they do late at night in the woods.

But the audience remains in the dark about what the group is actually all about until the end of the movie, when one member, overwhelmed by the chaos surrounding the Sisterhood of Night, takes her own life. Emily feels guilty about her role in her classmate’s death and apologizes for her actions.

Elizabeth Woodward ’15 and Supreeti Sharma ’15, co-executives of IFF, spearheaded the event. Following the movie, IFF hosted a question-and-answer session with Waechter, Fu, producer Elizabeth Cuthrell and her daughter, Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman. Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman portrayed a prominent member of the Sisterhood of Night whose mother was battling cancer.

The Sisterhood of Night features a mostly female cast and was directed, produced and written by all women. “We have a commitment for showing films that are made by women, and we have positive representations of women as well,” Woodward said.

Sharma also expressed excitement that many women contributed to the film. She added that she found it interesting that the film was funded by Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website, and more than $100,000 was collected to bring the film to the big screen.

Ultimately, “The Sisterhood of Night” manages to deliver a well-wrought, if occasionally melodramatic, depiction of female relationships during a transformative period.