Film Series: HADEWIJCH
by Bruno Dumont
Bruno Dumont’s exceptional film about faith and religious fervor begins as devout 20-year-old Céline is expelled from a nunnery, the mother superior—who calls her a “caricature of a nun”—disapproving of her self-starvation and self-mortification. Returned to the secular world, we discover she is the child of a French cabinet minister and lives in a palatial Paris apartment. Our heroine soon meets two brothers, Yassir and Nassir. The latter recognizes her religious seriousness and invites her to the Koran discussion group he leads. Although she doesn’t convert to Islam, Céline becomes fascinated by Nassir’s intense theological debates and his support of jihad. Dumont’s powerful film, which takes its title from the name of a 13th-century poet, Hadewijch of Antwerp, profoundly explores the relentless pursuit of faith in both Christianity and Islam—and what drives certain believers to acts of extreme violence.