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By midlandsmovies, Aug 6 2017 07:15PM



Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm: The Untold Secrets


Pre-release Screening, 4th August 2017, Stourbridge Town Hall


The question of who put Bella in the Wych-Elm has both baffled and captivated the public since 1943, when the body of an unidentified female was found in the innards of a tree in Hagley Woods in the West Midlands.


Director and paranormal investigator Jayne Harris set about trying to solve this long-standing mystery and uncovered some shocking revelations along the way. Stourbridge Town Hall sold out early with four hundred people wanting to be the first to see the film that documents her findings.


A director’s introduction detailed the evolution of the project, from YouTube clip to documentary feature before the audience was introduced to the case. Harris opened the introduction with claims that she isn’t a filmmaker. This is an assertion which needs to be reassessed.


The sheer wealth of material that has been excavated and created is staggering: Soaring aerial expositional shots of Hagley and its surrounding areas situate the audience slap-bang in the middle of the crime scene; ‘misplaced’ post-mortem documents were dug up and acted recreations were used effectively, never once evoking that unintentional ‘Horrible Histories’ feel that hampers some documentaries. Seamlessly put together, exhaustively researched and passionately presented, this wouldn’t look out of place under the Documentaries tab on Netflix.


Talking heads interviews with case experts and witchcraft aficionados translate as authoritative and impartial and are all the more engrossing for it. However, the medium’s insight does ask a lot of the audience, leaving this pragmatist somewhat sceptical and wishing the film was five minutes shorter.


However, depending on your inclination this and the eyewitness accounts of ghostly figures in the area will either send you running for the Wychbury hills…or running for the hills.


Although a few audio issues with the venue detracted from the presentation, it was inspiring to hear so many audience members discussing their thoughts and theories in the lobby after the film. This is clearly a case which captures the imagination and to see it in such an environment (a stone’s throw or two from the crime scene) separates this from your run-of-the-mill multiplex experience.


That the story invites such engagement is unsurprising; it’s delightfully dark and rich for exploration. Who was Bella? A prostitute, a traveller, a German intelligence agent? What about the actual killer? Was it ritualistic witchcraft, a local cover up or even Mi5 influenced? You’ll have to see it to find out for yourself.


Bella will haunt Stourbridge Town Hall again at a further screening on the 31st of October. Links to tickets will soon be available here


The DVD of Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm is available to order here with bonus features which include copies of the original police files/photographs and an interview with Director & Producer Jayne Harris.


Robb Sheppard

https://twitter.com/RedBezzle

By midlandsmovies, Jun 19 2017 01:27PM



Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm? – The Untold Secrets


First Official Screening. Friday August 4th at Stourbridge Town Hall.


Have you heard of the Wych-Elm legend? Nearly 75 years ago, the remains of an unidentified female were discovered in a hollowed-out tree in Hagley, giving birth to a murder mystery which captivated the West Midlands and soon spread much further afield.


Addressing questions left unanswered since 1943, local Director Jayne Harris attempts to solve a mystery that eluded the authorities, unearthing Nazi Espionage, Witchcraft, and the Supernatural along the way.


You can see the trailer here:




With previously classified MI5 and police information uncovered for the first time and local residents breaking their silence, maybe the mystery of "Who put Bella in the Wych-Elm?" can finally be put to rest.


The first official screening takes place at Stourbridge Town Hall: a venue the director chose for its Victorian elegance and its proximity to the site of the Wych-Elm.


Tickets cost £3 and are available here.


http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?agency=DUDLEYMBC&organ_val=21216&perfcode=3ABA02&perfsubcode=2017


Keep your eyes on Midlands Movies for a review soon.


Robb Sheppard


By midlandsmovies, Apr 12 2017 07:42AM



BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM


Tom Lee Rutter, Director/Writer/Producer

Carnie Features


From the deepest darkest Black Country comes a new Midlands movie from local filmmaker Tom Lee Rutter. Described as a “pseudo-doc horror mystery” it concerns the urban legend of the locally famous Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm story.


Hagley 1943 is our location and time, and a voice-over introduces the film and sets the scene. The 30-minute short has been edited in post-production to look similar to old films with added scratches, the flickering lighting of an aged projection and is also shot in stark monochrome. Inserts of static pictures of the Birmingham Star further cement its use of styles from way back in the past, as well as its regional connections.


Taking a whole year to complete, it celebrates the dark heart of the Midlands as a group of young boys in a forest uncover a human skull buried deep within a dirty tree. Originating from a little-known (outside the area it seems) folk tale, the legend has continued with strange graffiti which has appeared on the Hagley Obelisk near to where a body was found.


The boys mention their discovery to no one and the film veers from the historical version events – it is based on a real investigation – and suggests there was a more mysterious element to the whole affair. This is just one of many theories on how the skull came to be there, including the possibility of the natural AND supernatural.


In real-life the victim, whose murder was estimated to have occurred in 1941, remains unidentified but Rutter takes a very interesting premise and turns it into much more than the tale itself.


Some special effects include a mix of simple makeup and spooky transitions which were fine but what worked far better was the old-style “juddery” model effects which, again, was a superb nod to past movie-making techniques. This is further buoyed up by the liberal use of photos and etchings from the bygone era.


One area of improvement could be the sound. In an attempt to recreate the aural styling of an old vinyl record the filmmaker has added suitable after-effects but the quality did not quite work for me and could do with some EQ-ing and further post-production.


An eerie string score is far better however and much of the film is dialogue free – again, harking back to the silent shorts of the era. I would also have preferred a shorter run time as the story is slight and could be tightened up in editing.


That said, you can clearly tell Rutter has a keen interest in this fable and the film is a mix of fact, fiction and theory about the local story itself. A passion project in all senses, the short is a unique look at an esoteric and obscure slice of history and is as much documentary in parts as it is an imaginary tale.


Rutter has tried to use multiple effects to recreate archaic techniques with a different look to most mainstream Midlands films. Yet despite its length, the director has infused the film with imagination, artistry and resourceful skill to tell a tall tale of murkiness and intrigue. A dark delight.


Midlands Movies Mike


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