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Pagans Iqbal Ahmed

Watch a spellbinding portrait of the occult through the eyes of its members


TextAlex Peters

Nowness debuts new Iqbal Ahmed film ‘Pagans’

Welcome to Witch Week, a campaign dedicated to exploring how witchcraft, magick and beauty intersect. Discover photo stories shot featuring real witches in NYC, a modern reimagining of the witch, and one witch’s mission to get a tan, as well as in-depth features exploring herbology, science and alchemy, and male witches. Elsewhere, we’ve created four special covers to celebrate the campaign and our one year anniversary – something wicked this way comes.

If the word Pagan conjures up sinister images of pentagrams, blood rituals, and 80s horror films for you, you are not alone. Those were the misconceptions that director Iqbal Ahmed had of the spiritual belief system before he embarked on his two-year journey into a cross-generational community of Southern Californian witches, druids, wizards, sacred drummers, and Christo-pagans.  

Over the two years, however, Ahmed’s perspective changed as he developed relationships with his subjects and immersed himself in experiences that opened his eyes to a world both joyous and welcoming.

The resulting work is a truly cinematic documentary that gives an intimate glimpse into the modern workings of pre-Christian practices while celebrating the ordinary teachers, social workers, and PTA members who lead a life steeped in ceremony and superstition.

“My challenge was always to maintain a sense of intimacy with my subjects while simultaneously speaking to the larger topic of the subculture,” the director says. “I was touched that my subjects were willing to share so much about their beliefs and also about themselves to an outsider like me.” 

Over the ten minute duration of Pagans, we get to know these people as they share deeply personal details about their lives, from troubled upbringings to failed marriages and failing health, as we watch them quietly go through their spiritual routines and rituals, their stories coming together to create a moving portrait of people who choose to live outside the norm but are really no different than anyone else.

Watch the film below.

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