Behind the veil: nuns. Pt. 1.

Canada, 1984

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Part 1 of an in depth look at the history and influence of the largest all female, communal organisation in the world. The film spans the twenty centuries since Jesus’ birth as well as the pre-Christian-climates from which Christianity has evolved. Contemporary nuns of strength, dignity and commitment speak of their lives and of their predecessors. Filmed in Ireland, Canada, the United States and Italy, Part 1 contrasts the experiences of contemporary active nuns, living and working amidst poverty and crime, with the story of a young woman whose search for spirituality led her to a monastery near Rome. The film explores some of the roots of the paternalistic attitudes that have dominated the Catholic Church almost since its inception and the resultant denigration and sometimes persecution of religious women. Part 1 ends with contemporary nuns voicing their feelings about love and sexuality.



Kathleen Shannon

Signe Johansson

production company

National Film Board of Canada



Production places
Production dates

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ACMI Identifier




Subject categories

Anthropology, Ethnology, Exploration & Travel → Religion

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Nuns

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Religion

Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Religion & Sociology → Women and religion

Feature films

Feature films → Feature films - Canada






16mm film; Access Print (Section 1)

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If you would like to cite this item, please use the following template: {{cite web |url= |title=Behind the veil: nuns. Pt. 1. |author=Australian Centre for the Moving Image |access-date=28 July 2021 |publisher=Australian Centre for the Moving Image}}