It all starts when the assistant of the filming crew, Küllikki, starts her journey to the Eastern Orthodox convent of Pühtitsa, located in the northeastern part of Estonia. She becomes an observer, through whom the viewer is invited to follow the everyday life of the convent and women’s stories about pains and sufferings of the mundane world. The camera lingers on the faces of the nuns, and close-ups capture many histories which usually remain silent. However, director duo Pirjo Honkasalo and Eira Mollberg do not give in to apathy, and the convent proves itself as a community, in which in the middle of everyday chores there are jokes, laughter and childish excitement, above all.
A routine of divine rituals, a cycle of nature and cultivation reminiscent of pastoral romanticism entwine together as principles of time which guide the life of the nuns. The outer world seems to vanish, when the congregation sings while incenses are burning. However, there is no escape from the changing world: Pühtitsa is surrounded by vast polluted areas of land. Sacred is therefore to be found, besides the rituals, in unpolluted nature.
In the year 2022, Mysterion awakens more new questions about the meaning of faith, while the nostalgia of the early 90s underlines the difference to this day. The documentary, which observes its subjects compassionately, does not give ready answers, but encourages to watch and open one’s soul.
Mimosa Jaskari (translated by Elina Huttunen)