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Downtown Independent
Los Angeles, CA
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Prima ballerina Geraldine, photographer Kees, and their two boys, Christiaan and Louis, left Holland in 1980 to take up residence at the Convento São Francisco de Mértola. Strategically situated at the convergence of two rivers in southeastern Portugal, this vacant monastery was left decaying for centuries until the Zwanikken family arrived and transformed it with their eccentric and earthy endeavors. In the airy studio converted from the estate's chapel, son Christiaan builds kinetic sculptures from discarded electronics and the skulls and bones of deceased wildlife. Combining the family's home movies with his own observant photography, filmmaker Jarred Alterman casts these fantastical creatures as supporting characters in the film, as they literally move across the landscape, animating the ancient grounds. - Margaret Mead Film Festival Guide

Starring: Christiaan Zwanikken, Geraldine Zwanikken, Louis Zwanikken and Robots

Festivals: SXSW, Maryland Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, CIFF, IMA, DocFest Berlin, Docuwest, Leeds Internatioinal Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, Rooftop Films, CameraImage, Provincetown Film Festival and IFFBoston

Awards: Best Documentary IFFBoston

One of the top 10 Documentaries of the year: "Convento is a real life fantasy film that's unlike any documentary film I've seen this year."
- Jay Cheel, The Documentary Blog

"Captures haunting energy and mechanical splendor."
- Erin McCarthy, Popular Mechanics

"Wildly Captivating. Strangely beautiful."
- Noah Lee, Film Threat

"A lovely reminder of the things that really matter."
- Michael Tully, Pick of the Week: Filmmaker Magazine/Hammer to Nail

"An unorthodox doc about an unorthodox family of artists."
-Matt Singer,



Downtown Independent (View)
251 South Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States

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