Recently honored at the Finnish Film Affair, where it received the award for best Nordic project, the Danish production “The Great Silence” will travel directly to the convent, where Sister Alma (played by “Ninjababy”, Kristine Kujath Thorp) is about to take his perpetual vows. But once her recovering alcoholic brother appears, awakening memories of a family secret, Alma begins to question her choices.
The film, currently filming in Copenhagen and produced by Pernille Tornøe of the new company Monolit Film, will mark director Katrine Brocks’ feature debut, inspired by her religious education in a Christian community and co-written with Marianne Lentz, also at the origin of his Robert Award. winner of the short film “En un clin d’oeil”.
“My parents met at a Bible camp. Religion has always been the backdrop to my childhood, it was the foundation of everything, ”she says, admitting that her“ very personal relationship with God ”changed once she started her teenage years.
“I have been experiencing a spiritual identity crisis since I was 14 years old. I wouldn’t say I’m a believer, but I’m not a believer either, you know? I guess the whole movie is an exploration of this: figuring out where I stand in the middle of it all. “
Brocks – who graduated from the National Film School of Denmark and previously collaborated with Thorp on the 2019 short film ‘Under the Waves, Above the Clouds’, calling the actor his ‘creative muse’ – became fascinated with nuns after seeing a family friend take his vows.
“You marry, but not with a real person. The idea for the film came from this curiosity, to try to understand what prompts a person to choose such an absolute way of living with God.
Still, theological discussions will need to take a back seat to a story of two siblings trying to cope with their past trauma, with Elliott Crosset Hove portrayed as a skeptical older brother.
“Once you get there, it’s like seeing a car accident. Nuns pray for the world, so Alma believes she is there for him. But he doesn’t think it makes a difference, ”Brocks says, admitting that the characters represent both sides of her and her dilemmas.
“This story is really about our perception of ourselves, of going to great lengths to appear as a good person, even when it means that we have to demonize others. I grew up with Jesus as the ultimate role model and my interpretation of that. as a child was that I had to live at a really high standard in order to be loved by God. As an adult I came to understand that the whole “message” behind Jesus is that we are already forgiven But to be forgiven you have to be honest and that’s Alma’s problem, she’s not being honest about who she is.
With most of the story taking place in a nunnery, Brocks learned a lot from the nuns she interviewed, with many comparing it to just about every marriage.
“They told us we had to choose to be part of it. Sometimes you feel that God is there, sometimes he is not – just like the love of your spouse. It’s hard work, ”she says, interested in the contrasts between the sacred and the everyday.
“Nuns cook breakfast and send emails, and yet every chore becomes worship. The very idea of a convent is to create a space without guilt; a small paradise where original sin does not exist. But is it even possible?
Admitting that many films about nuns tend to focus on their chastity or sexuality – like Paul Verhoeven’s recent Cannes curiosity “Benedetta” – Brock’s interests lie elsewhere.
“That’s not my goal at all. I am much more interested in topics such as guilt and forgiveness, and mercy. The whole concept of being a sinner and a saint, and the clash between those two, ”she said, alluding to Sister Alma’s darker side.
“I’m curious to see if the public will judge her or support her,” she said, noting that while “The Great Silence” won’t criticize religion, it won’t glorify it either.
“I think religion can be a beautiful thing; I also think it can hurt people. The film explores how we, as human beings, struggle to find meaning in “The Great Silence”. When a tragedy occurs, some people become more religious while others lose their faith or see it as further evidence of a universe without God. For me, this is an interesting paradox.
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