Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


Challenging cinema is rare, unless it is intentionally confrontational (violent or sexual) or highly obscure (avant-garde). Chris Newby's directorial debut is invigorating because Anchoress operates on many levels political, philosophical and personal. Its story is both straightforward and oblique: Christine, an illiterate, fourteenth-century peasant, becomes obsessed with the Virgin Mary, and, supported by the village priest, claims special powers as a holy anchoress to communicate with her. According to tradition, she is enclosed in a small chamber in the church, much to the dismay of her skeptical, often profane mother. Thus begins a battle of wills involving the priest, the "reeve" of the manor and her family that shakes the foundations of orthodoxy.

Stunningly photographed. Anchoress is described by Newby as a film "about a poetic eye in a barbaric landscape. . . . For its design. I thought of a western, a medieval village as far-flung homesteads on a vast plain Christianity battles paganism, dogma fights a girl's inner vision." Moving from historical realism to a contemplative meditation on spirituality and the search for truth. It raises questions about undercutting authority. church versus state, and the sorceress versus the patriarchy as the guardian of myth and vision.

Friday Jan 21 Noon
Prospector Square Theatre

Sunday Jan 23 9:30 am
Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday Jan 27 4:1I0 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III


— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]