Feature Film: Calvary (2014, 1 hr 41 min)
About the story:
Set in the present day (circa 2012), Fr. James is a parish priest in the small fishing village of Easkey on the Northwest cost of Ireland. The film opens with Fr. James having an extraordinary experience in the confessional, forcing him to spend the next week examining the brokenness around him… within his parishioners, within his family, and within himself. Like Christ on his journey to Calvary, Fr. James finds himself making his own journey toward the cross, unsure where it will ultimately lead him.
Like the apostles who journeyed with Jesus, we the audience are taken on this journey with Fr. James through this pivotal week in his life, and like those same apostles, we are left with the challenge of making sense of the situation in light of Jesus’ teachings on mercy and love.
About the film:
Though the film is a work of fiction, it does capture well the zeitgeist of present day Ireland and its struggles with faith, the Church, and a growing secularism in society. Originally filmed in late 2012, Calvary made its debut in January 2014 at the Sundance Film Festival where it was picked-up by Fox Searchlight Pictures for distribution. It was an award winner at the Berlin International Film Festival (Prize of the Ecumenical Jury), the Irish Film and Television Awards (Best Film, Best Lead Actor, Best Screenplay), and the British Independent Film Awards Best Actor).
While the film deals with the severe wound of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, it is also a testament to the virtue of forgiveness, demonstrating how the need for forgiveness and mercy is necessary to eternal life. It is a powerful film that challenges our perceptions of the Catholic faith and the priesthood, as well as our understanding of Christian mercy as demonstrated by Jesus on the cross at Calvary.
Bishop Robert Barron’s review of the film notes that it “shows with extraordinary vividness, what authentic spiritual shepherding looks like and how it feels for a priest to have a shepherd's heart."