Poverty Chastity Obedience


If you surveyed the downtown Toronto bar and saw Joanne you wouldn’t think her different from any other young woman her age - drinking a pint of beer, having a smoke, and sharing a joke with a girlfriend. But Joanne is different. She is preparing to enter the Convent. Joanne, at 35, is about to become a Roman Catholic nun.

“As the day approaches - I don't - I mean, I’m sort of am apprehensive. I mean, I'm terrified, actually. But, you know, I trust that it's the right thing. I trust-- give me break. I haven't got a clue what I'm doing.”

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience follows a modern search for meaning into a world that has been called today's last counterculture, and a life which stands in stark contrast to the insatiable quest for money, sex and power. The film documents a year in the life of Joanne as she discerns her vocation and eventually enters religious life. Through a mix of direct cinema, interviews, and video diary confessionals, Joanne reveals her private struggles and the intimate moments that lead her into the Convent.

The call she is heeding may at first glance seem tradition and safe, but today, to contemplate becoming a nun, one becomes and unwitting rebel. Forty years ago the vowed life was seen as honorable. Now it is perceived as strange. Through the course of the film Joanne comes to terms with her unusual choice and its personal and public consequences. “Your pulling my leg.” her dressed-to-the-nines, 40 something, colleague stammers upon hearing the news.

Concurrently the film explores the uphill battle of the sisters of The Congregation of Notre Dame to recruit new women to their order. Sr. Sue, wears a T-shirt, A-line skirt, sensible shoes, and a silver cross. She is armed with her community’s latest effort to recruit new sisters - advertising posters. Ads that read, “Are you looking for new options?” This is the largest women's religious order in Canada but with an average age of 70, they clearly face a difficult struggle to survive.

In contrast to Sr. Sue’s very public battle to survive, the film paints an intimate portrait of Joanne’s journey. Through these interwoven stories Poverty, Chastity, Obedience witnesses and lays bare the conflict between the world inside and outside the Convent.


1 x 40 minutes


Director: Cornelia Principe
Editor: Steve Weslak
Director of Photography: Zoe Dirse
Composer: Cathy Nosaty