It’s the early sixties and 17-year-old Cathleen Harris has decided on what she wants for her future. Having been drawn to the Catholic faith from the age of 7, she now wants to take the ultimate step and become a nun having felt the presence of God. Her mother is none to happy about her decision, fearful that she will lose her daughter forever, but nonetheless Cathleen joins a convent as a postulant in under to undergo the novitiate – that is, training before taking holy vows – led by the Reverend Mother. She’s a very traditional kind of nun, rejecting any kind of modernisation of the church, banning all physical affection from the lightest of touches, and encouraging their young novices to use controversial methods of self-discipline. But, the fact is, the church is changing and the Reverend Mother struggles to cope with the idea of losing her authority as the era of the Second Vatican Council reformations draws near. Meanwhile, many of the novices struggle with their sexuality – something ultimately forbidden by the path they have chosen.
Directed and written by Margaret Betts (‘The Carrier’) in her first feature length film, ‘Novitiate’ is an intense religious drama which won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, where it was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.