Sundance Review: “Rebel Hearts”

Year: 2021
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: Pedro Kos

By Morgan Roberts

What happens when you fight the status quo? What happens when you fight an entity that has centuries of power? In “Rebel Hearts” (2021), we learn about the time the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary did just that in the 1960s. Back then, for some women, becoming a nun was an avenue to give back to their communities, obtain an education, and not be required to become a housewife.

In 1948, Cardinal McIntyre became Archbishop of Los Angeles. With his move came a very conservative and authoritative view of religion and its role within the community. The Sisters, particularly those teaching at the Immaculate Heart College, battled the tyrannical cardinal. The nuns were progressive from their fight for social justice to their view of Mother Mary, they were making waves which particularly angered Cardinal McIntyre. As their fight for change escalated, so did the possible consequences they would face.

I was really inspired by [the nuns’] tenacity and vivacious spirit as they were headed into unchartered territory against a Goliath authoritative figure.

After living through the year that was “2020”, it seems to be very difficult to find stories of hope. With the synopsis of this film, it would seem that this would yet another harrowing tale of struggle against the patriarchy and the doom experienced by it. Instead, the film really hones in on the hope each of these women had for progress. I was really inspired by their tenacity and vivacious spirit as they were headed into unchartered territory against a Goliath authoritative figure.

A still from Rebel Hearts by Pedro Kos, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

In addition to interviews and archival footage, the film used animation which really gave the film spunk – much like the women it was highlighting. It gave us a glimpse of where the Catholic church was in comparison to society at the time. These animations helped map out and personify the issues at hand. It was a creative way of filling in the gaps that archival footage could not fill.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were trailblazers; women who identified with the hope and love their faith and teachings gave them. It is incredible to think about how many stories have been lost to time. How something so monumental could appear to be a mere blip. I appreciate Kos and team resurrecting this story, and giving it a permanent place for others to learn from these extraordinary women.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: