Himself a former Jehovah’s Witness, writer/director Daniel Kokotajlo provides an insider’s critique in this dramatic tale of mother and daughter torn between faith and instinct.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
Set in the cloistered world of Manchester's Jehovah’s Witness community, this exquisitely observed, superbly acted British debut is a quietly devastating film about the tension between personal devotion and institutional power. Alex and Luisa have grown up in the faith with their unquestioning single mother, Ivanna, as spiritual guide. The deeply reverent Alex is suffering from a disease that requires blood transfusions, a 'contaminating' procedure that is forbidden by the church. Her older sister Luisa begins art school, romances an outsider and starts to doubt the tenets of their religion.
When a sudden rift occurs – in both the lives of the protagonists and the narrative of the film – the foundation of this pious family is torn asunder. Rigorous in its critique of the church, and entirely sympathetic in its treatment of character, this is a rare film about a rarefied world. It heralds Daniel Kokotajlo (who draws on his own experience growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness) as a major new talent. This is reflected in his winning of the prestigious BFI and IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award. — Clare Stewart