Written and Directed by: Margaret Betts
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Julianne Nicholson, Sasha Mason, Melissa Leo and David O’Hare
USA / 2017 / Drama / 14A for language, some sexuality and nudity / 123 min.
“A piercing, immersive, and superbly played convent drama in which the suppression of speech is witnessed at both an individual and institutional level.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Novitiate offers harrowing moments that could have had more impact with a slower tempo.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
In the mid-1950s, young Cathleen Harris is taken to a Catholic Church by her non-religious mother (Julianne Nicholson) so she can get an idea of what religion is about. Soothed by the peace she finds in Church, in contrast to her home where she has to endure her parents’ loud and frequent arguments, Cathleen is drawn in.
Five years later, Cathleen (Sasha Mason), now 12, is offered a full scholarship to a parochial Catholic school, where she’s taught by nuns. Shy Cathleen finds her place there and by the time she’s 17, she wants to become a nun and enters a convent. However, while studying to be a nun under the direction of the extremely strict Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo), there’s an upheaval within the Church as new directions come from Rome. At the same time, Cathleen (Margaret Qualley) begins to find her dedication and beliefs wavering.
WON – Special Jury Prize, Breakout Director, Sundance Film Festival, 2017
NOMINATED – Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic, Sundance Film Festival, 2017
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE – Toronto International Film Festival, 2017