The Vanquishing
of the Witch Baba Yaga
March 25th, 2016

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga [2014]

Please join us for a special screening event of Jessica Oreck’s The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga [2014]. The director will be in attendance to introduce the film and participate in a Q&A.

  • Screening Date: Friday, March 25th, 2016 | 7:00pm
  • Venue: Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center
  • Specifications: 2014 / 73 minutes / Polish & Russian with English subtitles / Color
  • Director(s): Jessica Oreck
  • Print: Supplied by Myriapod Productions
  • Tickets: $7.00 General Admission / FREE for Squeaky Members
  • Extras: Stop in early for FREE Breadhive granola while supplies last!

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Market Arcade Complex (first floor) 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Courtesy of Myriapod Productions:

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 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 memory and the sociology of fear, imagination and survival.


  • True/False Film Festival – 2014
  • BFI London Film Festival – 2014
  • AFI Fest – 2014

“It’s hard to remember how the animation came about; so much of my work is intuitive, so much of it I don’t remember actually writing, I don’t remember editing, it just sort of happens. I do my best work when I’m sort of slightly asleep and I can channel this other entity, that has nothing to do with me, that wants to make this film.”

Courtesy of Myriapod Productions:

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 award-winning first feature-length documentary Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, played theatrically around the world and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens series in 2011. Her latest film Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys is in the middle of a nationwide theatrical tour. She is currently in production on several short animated projects, including the recently released web series, Mysteries of Vernacular.

Jessica considers her second home the American Museum of Natural History, where she has worked as an animal keeper and educator periodically since 2006.


  • Memoirs of Vegetation (2020)
  • One Man Dies a Million Times (2019)
  • The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga (2014)
  • Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys (2013)
  • Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (2009)

Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:

  • 3/8/16 – Celebrate ‪#‎InternationalWomensDay‬ by diving into filmmaker Jessica Oreck’s Mysteries of the Vernacular project – link
  • 3/17/16 – “Jessica Oreck’s The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga is a staggeringly polymorphous documentary that often suggests a collaboration between Carlos Reygadas, Godfrey Reggio, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Part meditative nature film, part urban observational, part fairy tale, these seemingly disparate parts consistently juxtapose throughout to form not just an evocative mood piece, but a larger, discursive work that achieves something resembling Sergei Eisenstein’s concept of dialectical montage.” Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazinelink
  • 3/23/16 – “I love this film. I’m really proud of it. To me, it is the best film I’ve made so far and I’ve realized it’s not for everyone, as none of my films are, but I do think it’s my strongest work to date, so I’m very proud of it, but distribution and outreach are so deeply against my nature.” Jessica Oreck, Director of The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga, IONCINEMA interview – link
  • 3/24/16 – “Folklore, mythology, art, religion – they are all ways we hand ideas across generations. I think a lot of my work is tied to both the conscious and the unconscious build up of culture and social norms through storytelling, through ritual, through habit. I always want people to think about the things we take for granted, the things we think are innate – about ourselves, about our societies, about the tools we use, the language we speak. I want audiences to take a step back and appreciate all the invisible hands that have molded us into what we are. But there are lots of other facets too! I never just want there to be one answer.” Artvoice‘s Jordan Canahai spoke with director Jessica Oreck about her film The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yagalink

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