December 02, 2020
Beginning with shaven-headed acolytes dancing to techno, Valentina Pedicini’s extraordinary film is all about power
Faith review – compelling, beautifully shot doc on an Italian cult
This documentary will be the last film we see from Italian director Valentina Pedicini who died last month tragically young, aged 42, from liver cancer. And what an extraordinary film it is, opening with an intoxicating rave scene: a room full of lithe muscular men and Women dressed all in white, some with shaved heads, dancing furiously to German techno. They are monks, disciples of the Master: the oldest man in the room, a martial arts expert who 20 years ago opened a monastery in the Italian hills where he trains “warrior monks” in Catholicism and kung fu. He is the god of his little universe.
At the start, Faith could be a quirky tale about a bunch of wacky eccentrics as it follows the monks’ daily routines and rituals: combat training, prayer, boxing lessons for teeny toddlers, a monastery meeting to discuss expelling a monk. The film is gorgeously cinematic, shot by DOP Bastian Esser in textured black and white – it looks like a Rossellini. The strictly observational, no-interview style can be a little frustrating; it doesn’t help that the monks have a roundabout, indirect way of expressing themselves. But there’s no mistaking the increasingly sinister mood.
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