This Italian documentary was directed by Valentina Pedicini, November 2020, died of liver cancer. That’s very unfortunate for a number of reasons. Pedicini was a very brave documentary filmmaker in his all too short career. In her 2010 book My Marlboro City, she investigated the tobacco smuggling trade in her hometown of Brindisi. In “From the Depths” (2013) she accompanied female miners working more than 1,500 feet below sea level.
Her last film, Faith, which ran in widescreen black and white, describes a man audiences only know when the Master founded a monastery of sorts in 1998 and populated it with people. Start with text. The so-called Warrior of Light. These are martial-trained monks and mothers, ostensibly “in the name of their fathers” fighting “demons”.
Twenty years after the group’s formation, these warriors are all dressed in white, under strobe lights, and having rave-style dance training.・Watch the chanting of “Maria” in unison. I see them sharing a pasta dinner. Finally, all diners lick their plates clean. We look in their shared bathroom and see them shaving their heads.
It is not long before one wonders under what ‘father’ these monks work. One meeting revolves around Gabriele, a friar who either flirts with all the women in the group or is actually bedridden. He refuses to resign (his actions are discouraged by the group) and half-heartedly promises to work on the confession. As for the Master himself, he beat the women and said, “You don’t deserve to be warriors.”
Pedicini constructs the film as an oblique narrative rather than a reveal. And “Faith” disturbs it even more. Clearly, this peculiar filmmaker is just getting started.
Unrated. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. Watch on Film Movement+.