REXBURG – Last October, EastIdahoNews.com brought you the story of Lori Prescott Hansen’s one-woman show “I Be A Witch.” It is based on the true story of Hansen’s 11th great-grandmother, Ann Foster, who was accused of being a witch during the infamous Salem witch trials in the late 17th century.
Hansen’s performance piqued the interest of filmmakers, and over the past year her work has been adapted into a short film. A special screening of “I Be A Witch” will be shown for free on Saturday October 29th at 7:30pm at the Romance Theater in Rexburg. Doors open at 6:30pm and there will be a question and answer session with the filmmaking team at the end of the film.
Hansen, a Rexburg resident and former associate professor in the theater department at Brigham Young University Idaho, has played many roles throughout her years in theater and as a professional storyteller. But when she found out about her relationship with Foster from her son, she was particularly drawn to learning more about her ancestor and sharing her story.
“I started reading about her and researching her story,” says Hansen. “It was so captivating that I couldn’t rest. I knew I wanted – and almost needed – to do something about her story.”
After seeing Hansen’s live performance last October, Utah filmmakers Cherie and Matthew Julander approached Hansen with the idea of making a short film out of it. Hansen liked the idea, but at first he didn’t understand how serious the Julanders were about it. She was surprised they actually wanted to do it.
“We actually did it!” Hansen says. “It’s a kind of labor of love for us and her.”
A labor of love, in part because, like Hansen, Cherie Julander also has a personal connection to Foster.
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“Cherie is also a descendant of Ann Foster, which was incredible,” says Hansen. “We both felt compelled to be true to her story and present her honestly. It’s not a sensational witch show. It is a retelling of her life story that is tragic enough. There was no need for additional sensationalism. And I feel like we did well.”
According to Hansen, Cherie Julander adapted the screenplay into a screenplay and Matthew Julander did a lot of behind-the-camera work.
“They’re a really good team,” says Hansen. “I was kind of wondering how a man and a woman could work together. They’re a well-oiled machine and they know what they’re doing. They’ve probably been in the film industry in Salt Lake City for 20 years.”
In the film, Hansen reprises her role as Foster and another young local actress, Ainsley Burns from Rexburg, was chosen to play one of Foster’s accusers.
“She’s a great little actress. It really is,” says Hansen.
Hansen briefly stops calling the upcoming Rexburg, which is showing an official premiere of the film. She says the project is 90% complete but the score is still being written. They bought already produced music to make room for an original score.
When the score is ready and any edits are made after audience feedback, Hansen says it’s time to submit the project to film festivals and competitions.
Hansen says there will be prize draws and raffles at the screening event, and while entry is free, donations are welcome.
“We’re hoping for some donations so we have the money to submit it to festivals,” she says.
Hansen warns that while the film has no profanity or sexual content, it is not suitable for young children.
“It’s violent,” she says. “There is a montage of torture scenes showing what was done to people at the time. I want to warn people that it’s not for very young children.”
Hansen says she hopes audiences will see modern parallels in the centuries-old story.
“I hope people will see today’s applications because we live in a society that is so quick to judge and accusations so quick without any information,” she says. “We have the same tendency today to label people and set them aside as disposable. I’m not pushing that in the film, but I hope people see the parallels because I think there are a lot.”