What is the difference between a mystic and a witch? That is the question at the heart of Gina Napolitan’s Little Rose Dreams of Biddy Early. While researching her ancestry Gina found two disparate, strange, yet somehow linked female ancestors. The first was Marie Rose Farron: a catholic mystic and founder of a religious order in Rhode Island. Stricken with childhood polio, she remained bedridden until her death at age 33. The second was Biddy Early: a famed fortune-teller and healer who was tried for witchcraft in County Clare, Ireland.
Gina takes a complex topic – the comparison of two spiritually connected women and how they are, or are not, different – and diffuses it. The film is made up of miniature re-creations, narration from a low-budget video advocating for the beatification of Marie Rose Farron, and on screen text telling the parallel story of Biddy Early, another spiritual woman who who was vilified by the state.
Little Rose Dreams of Biddy Early is a simple yet evocative film about the ways society judges us arbitrarily, and what that means personally for the filmmaker, her family, and her history. There’s no satisfactory answer to the question Gina poses. This film is a study, and the audience is left to draw their own conclusions, and to ask their own questions.