New American Cinema


Year 2017
Runtime 118 mins

In the early 1960s during Vatican II, a young nun-in-training struggles with issues of faith, the changing church and sexuality.

Spanning across a decade from the early 1950s onward, NOVITIATE tells the story of young Sister Cathleen (Margaret Qualley, THE LEFTOVERS) and her first initiation with love - deep in the clutches of the Catholic church. Raised by a non-religious, single mother in rural Tennessee, Cathleen receives a scholarship to a Catholic school and is soon drawn into the appeal and mystery of a life devoted to God. But in the shadows of the Vatican II era, Cathleen struggles to understand her place with faith, sexuality and subservience as she is confronted by the harsh and inhumane treatment of His servants.

Director Margaret Betts is getting plenty of buzz for NOVITIATE, her first feature-length fiction film. With a cast led by Qualley, Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo (SNOWDEN, THE FIGHTER), and Dianna Agron (also in the Calgary Film selection HOLLOW IN THE LAND), this breakout film which took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director at the Sundance Film Festival is already making waves ahead of its mainstream release.


United States
Sundance, U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director, Maggie Betts
Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Atlantic International Film Festival, Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival
Marggie Betts
Executive Producer
Jessica Betts, Roland Betts
Carole Peterman, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler
Maggie Betts, Maggie Betts
Kat Westergaard
Susan E. Morse
Production Design
John Sanders
Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor