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REBEL HEARTS (2021, USA) Documentary review, plot, trailer, rating

In the mid-1960s, at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Vatican II), the leadership of the Catholic Church decided that it might not be a bad idea to modernize this conservative religious organization at least minimally. The world was changing, and the church remained the same as it was a hundred or five hundred years ago, more and more people decided to convert to another religion or go to atheists. Of course, no change is so easy and there were strong currents that advocated that nothing change. That is why one congregation welcomed the breath of change with enthusiasm, but the joy of the nuns from the Convent of the Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles was quite short-lived.

Pedro Kos’s documentary premiered in Sundance brings an interesting story that takes us to the second half of the sixties. At a time when America was experiencing great social change, when anti-war movements, human and civil rights movements were becoming more and more pronounced, and nuns joined this wave. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Catholic order of nuns, started a private college and high school in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. In the 1960s, the college and high school offered, in addition to religious education, various other art and other programs, and the faculty was something completely different from what we usually imagine when we think of a teaching institution run by a church.

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The faculty was run by nuns who were undoubtedly smarter and, on average, more educated than their fellow priests. Of course, such a modern and brilliant faculty was not something that suited the church leadership, and the new, ultra-conservative cardinal who arrived in Los Angeles realized that this hint of rebellion and revolution should be cut at the root. We follow this in this interesting historical documentary which, in addition to a series of archival footage from that period and interviews, also consists of animated segments that fill some gaps, the struggle of nuns for at least minimal freedom and fundamental rights.

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He disgusted these women with this old, archaic, rigid concept whose main goal is to create obedient and shaky people who will unquestioningly follow some ancient code that they are sure is naughty. They tried to fight for at least some kind of autonomy and to allow them to behave as they were nominally approved and recommended at Vatican II, but it is clear that the old conservative leaders of the mother church did not allow it. And this story is one of the examples of why more and more people today are turning away from these archaic religious institutions left behind in time and space, and time has shown that these nuns were on the right side of history. Rating 8/10.

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