Faith is a documentary that serves as a great example of truth being stranger than fiction. Shot over three and a half months, the film is about the Guerrieri della Luce (The Warriors of Light) a 20 year old Catholic sect comprised of mostly former martial arts champions. The group train with the Master so they will be ready to save humanity when the Apocalypse comes.
A film about a Catholic kung fu monastery will garner immediate interest. Is it a lighthearted look at weirdos or did filmmaker Valentina Pedicini uncover something more sinister? The answer resides somewhere in the middle as Faith never makes sure to lean too far in either direction. Pedicini has put together something special. Shot in black and white, there are moments that look like a work of art. The training sequences look especially crisp. There is a beauty to the film that feeds into the blissful nirvana the Warriors are searching for.
Beneath it all is a darker subtext. Early in Faith it is revealed that a male monk has been accused of sexual harassment. He is given an ultimatum, but it seems like he is the rule rather than the exception. Even worse, it appears as if the Master may be the problem. As things progress, it becomes clear the Master runs the monastery through grueling training regiments and emotional abuse. Almost unsurprisingly, he is hardest on the women. There are one on one sessions in which someone has a rope around her neck and nightly therapy sessions with groups of women.
Faith is as disturbing as it sounds. As entertaining – and yes, relaxing – as it can be to watch, it is hard to shake the feeling that something terrible is going on. Things become more cult like and less silly. It is an unnerving watch that is impossible to turn away from.
Faith comes to FM+ August 5
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