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Neuvaine 1984

The title (NOVENA in English) refers to the nine days of prayers undertaken in Roman Catholicism as an act of devotion or penitence with the aim of obtaining a state of grace. In Olivier Smolders' brooding, impressively refined short film, realized in black and white with liturgical choral music punctuating its obsessive narrative, a writer retreats into the seclusion and tumultuous memories of his old college. There he assumes a vow of silence mocked by his nearly ceaseless internal monologue and the violent, morbid preoccupations of his mind as he attempts to reconcile the competing forces of the ascetic and the voluptuary. - Robert Avila

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