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Rome Reports

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Cistercian monks take their future into own hands

A monastery much too big for so few monks. This is the basis of the documentary “The Island of the Monks,” which follows the life of this Cistercian community with eight members in a house fit for 120. 

The monks want to move to a smaller place, due to the circumstances. However, starting over after centuries of history in one place doesn't seem to be an easy task. 

ANNE CHRISTINE GIRARDOT
Director, “The Island of the Monks”
“After all, it's the story of all of us, because there are times in our lives when we have to leave the things we had; we have to abandon all security we thought we had. Thus, despite it being a very particular story about Catholic monks, I thought it had a universal theme.”

The director, the monks' neighbor, found out they were moving and wanted to follow the whole process with her camera. She proposed it to the monks, and they let her accompany them to their new home. 

ANNE CHRISTINE GIRARDOT
Director, “The Island of the Monks”
“Almost no one goes into that cloister, especially a woman, so I realized how special it was for them to invite me. A week after that meeting, they contacted me and told me they wanted to undertake the adventure with me. That was very special.”

That adventure, which the director recorded for 40 hours, ended up being called the “Island of the Grey Monks.” It's an island in northern Holland that gets its name from Cistercian monks who wore grey and lived there 500 years ago. From their past, these eight men begin building a new future

ANNE CHRISTINE GIRARDOT
Director, “The Island of the Monks”
“It's a story of hope. Completely. It goes against all signs of the times that tell them, 'You're going to die and there won't be anyone in the convent.' Despite this, they believe there is a future; they're taking it into their own hands and trying to make sure there is a future for them.”

The documentary shows the move was also one of an internal trip, a return to their vocational roots to rediscover in whom they have placed all of their confidence.