The Recent Rise Of Religious Cinema

THE NUN (1966)

With the recent cinema re-release of the newly restored THE NUN – Jacques Rivette’s French New Wave classic from 1966, initially banned in France upon release, we’ve seen a resurgence in tackling of religious issues on screen. With a constantly troubling news cycle dominating our cultural conversations, there seems to be an increased appetite for films to address our collective hunger for spiritual answers in an increasingly unstable world.

We’ve gathered a list of four upcoming or recently released films that provide a much-needed look at the issue of faith in today’s society.

THE NUN (1966)

Directed by Jacques Rivette

Banned for two years upon release for its controversial subject matter, with an exception granted for it to premiere at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim, Jacques Rivette’s The Nuns  is a gem of the French New Wave, encapsulating the turbulent years of the Gaullist government and political instability of France in the 1960s. Adapted from the 18th-century novel by Denis Diderot, the author of The Lumieres, the film stars Anna Karina as  Suzanne Simonin, a young woman removed from her family home to become a nun against her will. The character of Suzanne becomes, with Diderot, an allegorical figure of freedom of speech and revolt as relevant in the 1960s as it is today.



Directed by Paul Schrader

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary parish priest at a small church in upstate New York, which is on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Now more of a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, it has long been eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities.

When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, Toller is plunged into his own tormented past and finds himself questioning his own future and where redemption might lie. With the pressure on him beginning to grow, he must do everything he can to prevent everything spiralling out of control.



Directed by Daniel Kokotaijo

Johovah’s Witness Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran), and her two children Alex and Luisa, are all devoted to their faith until Luisa, the eldest daughter, begins to question everything she has known. Ivanna fears of Luisa being exposed to bad influences at college such as people of no faith or even other ‘wrong’ faiths. In a religion that will shun anyone who does not believe or goes against the core beliefs of the faith, Ivanna faces a tough decision when Luisa chooses to betray God. Meanwhile, Alex is adamant that she will not go down the same route as her sister and feels responsible to upkeep her commitment to the orthodoxy.



Directed by Xavier Giannoli

Jacques (Vincent Lindon) is a war reporter working for a large French newspaper. His reputation as an impartial and talented investigator attracts the attention of the Vatican who recruit him to take part in a committee investigating the truth behind a saintly apparition in a small French village. On arrival in the town, Jacques meets the young and sensitive Anna (Galatea Bellugi) who claims to have personally witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary. A profound devout, she’s gathered an impressive following in the village and is torn between her faith and the many solicitations she receives. Confronted with opposing views from clergy members and sceptics, Jacques begins to uncover the hidden motivations and pressures at work and sees his beliefs system profoundly shaken to the core.


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