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Convento2010

  • 3.9
São Francisco in Portugal's Mertola Village was built four-hundred years ago to house purported relics of Jesus Christ: a fragment of his robe and bits of the cross. But the monks had disappeared and the site had long been abandoned by the time an eccentric family of Dutch artists decided to make it their new home. Matriarch Gerladine Zwanikken was a classical ballerina-turned-choreographer who left the performance world for a life of social isolation with her photographer husband Kees (now deceased) and their two children. Three decades later, she remains content working in her garden and cooking with its bounty. Son Christiaan scavenges dumps and uses found animal skeletons to create kinetic sculptures both playful and macabre. His brother John mostly tends to the livestock (including his "best friend" Doenja, a horse), having decided that "people are boring." Living the ultimate eco-friendly existence mining nature and repurposed human detritus, this trio's days are captured in the poetical reverie of Jarred Alterman's gorgeous documentary. Archival footage and Lawrence Dolan's spectral score add to the mystique of a sometimes-surreal movie that is as much an objet d'art as Christiaan's bizarre robotic creations. Which are, by the way, world-renowned, though you wouldn't necessarily guess that from this short feature's narrow focus on a most unique "convent" life. - Dennis Harvey

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Member Reviews (1)

Beautiful. Mesmerizing.