(Philippines, 2012, 87 mins, Betacam SP)
Oct 09 05:00 pm Vancity Theatre
Oct 11 06:45 pm Pacific Cinematheque
A startling left-turn after Senorita (VIFF 11), Vincent Sandoval’s new film is about nuns in a cloister convent, like Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus and Jacques Rivette’s La religieuse. It opens with a quote from Gramsci: “The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears.” We’re in 1971, and the largest morbid symptom around is Ferdinand Marcos’s play for greater political power, which occurs off-screen. But little of the outside world impinges on Adoration, a convent set in secluded woods outside Manila, which sees itself as a physical and spiritual sanctuary. We explore this closed world, riven by manias and secrets, through the eyes of Sister Lourdes, a newly arrived novice. She has hardly settled in before she learns that her activist brother is missing, presumed arrested... She finds ways to venture out to Manila, where a terrible fate awaits her.
Apparition obviously reflects the fact that the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation, thanks to its years as a Spanish colony, but Sandoval is less interested in questions of faith than in the issue of good governance. Adoration’s Mother Superior, Ruth, knows much more about what’s going on in the outside world than she lets on. Is she a kind of Marcos, imposing her own kind of martial law?
— Tony Rayns