DENMARK / 2006 / Danish, English, Russian / Color / 35mm (1:1.77) / 84 min
Director, Photography: Pernille Rose Grønkjær
Script: Jens Arentzen, Per K. Kirkegaard, Pernille Rose Grønkjær
Editing: Pernille Bech Christensen
Sound: Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Music: Johan Söderqvist
Producer: Sigrid Helene Dyekjær
Executive Producer: Michael Fleischer
Production Company: Tju-Bang Film 2 ApS
Source: Danish Film Institute
World Sales: First Hand Films
Vig purchased Hesbjerg Castle fifty years ago, aiming to turn it into a monastery. His wishes are fulfilled when the Russian Orthodox Church officially decides to convert the Danish castle into a church and convent. The charismatic Russian nun Sister Amvrosija and others arrive for preparations, and it seems his dream is going to be realized without a hitch . . . But this elderly bachelor, who has gone without falling in love for his eighty-two years, finds himself repeatedly coming into conflict with Sister Amvrosija and her different cultural background and values. The film embraces Vig with tenderness and humor as he gradually opens up, however clumsily.
[Director’s Statement] Universal stories are essential and you may find them even in the most remote places. A universal story tells me something about “being me.” From it, I grow wiser.
The fairytale . . . I have always dreamed of creating a fairytale, and this is what Mr. Vig has allowed me to do. This fairytale touched something deep inside. From a personal and local story—in a very strange setting—a universal tale emerged: A story about an old man, his dreams and visions, yet also a story about love and the difficulty of coping with emotions.
My starting point was a deep-felt admiration for Mr.Vig: A romantic image of an old man who stubbornly followed his heart and dreams. In the process of filming I discovered his pain and shortcomings and I realized the conflict within his romantic dream. This changed my perspective. My admiration evolved into a kind of love, an important kind of love. Mr.Vig shared his pain and woes with me. He let me in, and I have learned from him. I hope you will, too. My sincerest thanks, Mr. Vig.
Pernille Rose Grønkjær
Born in 1973 in Denmark, Grønkjær studied documentary directing at the National Film School of Denmark, graduating in 1997. She made two documentary films as a director and a photographer, Those Were the Days (1998) and Repeating Grandpa (2001). The latter was selected for INPUT 2002 at the Rotterdam Documentary Film Festival. She later directed several episodes of two Danish TV series: The Complicated Family Life (2004) and The Family (2005). The Monastery won the Joris Ivens Award at the 2006 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.