Directed by: Jarred Alterman
East Coast Premiere
The Zwanikken family has spent three decades transforming a 400-year-old Portuguese monastery and its awe-inspiring grounds into their artistic playground. Matriarch Geraldine, a former ballet dancer, fills the space with her paintings and sculptures, while her son Louis cares for the animals and the gardens where the family grows their own food.
It is Geraldine’s other son, Christian, however, who makes the biggest impression. Christian finds and reanimates the bones of dead animals, using cast-off electronics to create interactive sculptures that chirp, dance, whirl, creep, chatter, fly in synchronization, and generally haunt the monastery. Fusing skulls and feathers with batteries and wire, Christian’s odd, amusing, and sometimes unsettling creations blur the line between the mechanics of the living and the life of the machine. Geraldine’s past as a dancer, Louis’ understanding of nature, and even the convento’s long spiritual history and diverse wildlife influence the conception of these bizarre creatures.
With a hypnotic original score and long, slow tracking shots, CONVENTO indulges the viewer with a wide-eyed view of the Zwanikken family’s extraordinary everyday life. Meditative but also humorous, the film does not comment on, but rather communes with its subjects, immersing the viewer in their whimsical, fairytale-like landscape.