The Cloud of Unknowing

A Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts and spiritual seekers in the city of Boston, offer a visual and observational exploration of contemplation, Christian mysticism and the quest for God.

Anthony and I hope The Cloud of Unknowing resonates with spiritual seekers — theist and atheist alike. This film was a spiritual journey for us and we hope at the very least it can raise a question: What if there’s more to all of this?

This film has been a journey, and there’s still more to go. Anthony and I first discussed a monastic project in early 2018. By late March we had begun filming at Spencer Abbey with cooperation with the monks. In the months that followed, editing progressed as one long conversation — discussing themes, ethics, and ideology. Collaborating with a fellow philosopher and nerd is always rewarding (sorry, Tony, but you’re a nerd too, it’s okay).

After winning Best NH Short Documentary at the New Hampshire Film Festival in October 2018, Anthony and I returned to the editing room to continue our work. Sound needed tending, and color a complete do-over. We knew there was more technical work that could be done on the film to get it to where we wanted to.

However, we never expected for the soul of the film to change.

Father Matthew’s passed away shortly after the film premiered at New Hampshire

We always knew that Father Matthew’s story of mystical love was at the heart of The Cloud of Unknowing, but when he passed, we knew we had to return to Spencer.

A Young Fr. Matthew

If you had told me before this project began that I would be capturing the legacy and last words of a Trappist monk, I don’t think I would’ve believed you.

I never knew that Fr. Matthew would have such an incredible impact on my life either. His spirit is like loving grandfather to me.

His peacefulness in the shadow of his waning health is profound. His life testified even louder than his love-infused words.

Making this film has been one of the greatest privileges of my life, and an vocational affirmation that cinema was the right path. It is a deep honor to form relationships with the subjects of your films.

My favorite part about sharing the film with folks is the conversation afterwards. I love the dialogues that I’ve been able to participate in. It’s very rewarding to me and I can’t wait to bring the film to a larger audience.

We’ve applied to several film festivals which will take place this Fall and Winter. Hopefully, we’ll have some travelling to do. Getting in to any one of these festivals would be absolutely amazing. There are so many impressive short documentaries out there, so even to be considered is exciting.

Anthony Farenwald wielding the Bolex

Making this film has brought a flood of new ideas for more short documentaries about religion in America. I am very excited to continue my research on Deaf spirituality and develop a new project about the Word of God. There are so many stories to tell and explore. The Cloud of Unknowing has really been a milestone for me as a filmmaker, and I feel so positive about the future. This film has been very affirming to me as an artist and it’s put me in a place where I’m excited to keep working and creating. I’ve not always been in that place!

At any rate, enjoy this excerpt from the film. If you are interested in learning more about the project or sharing your thoughts, I kindly welcome them. Please send me an email!

Cheers,
Wes

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