Poland submitted this award-winning drama (16 wins) to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival about a young nun who, in 1960s Poland, suddenly suspends her decision to take her vows, because she has just uncovered a long-hidden family secret that dates back to WWII. The Mother Superior wisely advises her to visit her aunt in a nearby village before she takes her final vows.

We watch:
  • Agata Trzebuchowska is Anna, the uninitiated young woman raised in a Catholic orphanage who has never been to the beach, never kissed a boy, and can't count her vows as a sacrifice if she doesn't know what she'll be missing.
  • Agata Kulesza is Wanda, our novitiate's Communist aunt, who breaks the news to her that she wasn't born a Catholic. Red Wanda is blunt and assertive in everything she does; she asks Anna, "What if you find out there is no God?"
  • Dawid Ogrodnik plays Lis, a saxophone-playing hitchhiker who adores John Coltrane's "Naima." His family also suffered during the Holocaust because some of them were Gypsies. He's trying to avoid Army duty, so he observes that both of them are afraid to take vows. BTW do NOT miss him in "Life Feels Good" at this same festival!
We explore Poland's collective guilt over the fate of three million Polish Jews who disappeared during the holocaust (their property was quietly confiscated by local families), while we watch a devout young woman question (and then answer) her concerns about becoming a Catholic nun.

This effective PG-13 film is shot in black and white, so the expert use of light and shadow is obvious from the first frame. This is particularly effective in the nunnery. Our screening audience agreed that even though the pace was very, very slow, the story was gripping and accessible.
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Here is a preview:
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