Tuesday, September 04, 2007

viff07: the monastery: mr vig & the nun

Veiled hints from PTC that this is one to see...
The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun
Denmark, 2006, 84 min, DigiBeta
In Danish/English/Russian with English subtitles

Directed By: Pernille Rose Grønkjær
Official site

Jørgen Lauersen Vig, an elderly, deeply eccentric, never-married Dane, lives alone in dilapidated Hesbjerg Castle. It’s his life’s ambition to donate it to the Russian Orthodox Church. When the Patriarchate agrees to send a team to suss out the situation, it seems as if his dream may come true. However, he meets a stumbling block in iron-willed Sister Ambrosija, a young and remarkably attractive nun who arrives with a small entourage and her own plans about how to whip the crumbling manse into shape. Eventually, the two unlikely colleagues find companionship and common ground.

Shot over a period of years, director Pernille Rose Grønkjær’s affectionately crafted documentary doesn’t hide Vig’s foibles, nor does it make him a figure of fun. Once a parish priest and then a university librarian, Vig holds some peculiar views on life, love and religion that he enjoys sharing when he’s not asking the filmmakers for help with chores. He wants to set up a monastery because he wants to make something enduring. Turning the tables on the director, he asks wouldn’t she like a film that went down in history? It may not be in the record books yet, but Monastery won the prestigious Joris Ivens Award at Amsterdam’s International Documentary Festival as well as the Sundance World Documentary prize.

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