Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021

SISTER HELEN

 

Year: 2001
Country: USA
Run Time: 90 minutes

"I tried to do for other people's sons what I didn't do for my own...this house is my second chance to do it right." So says Sister Helen, the subject of this documentary shot in her "parish," the John Thomas Travis Center, located in the South Bronx. Following the death of her husband and two sons in the 1980s, at the age of 56, Helen got sober and joined the Benedictine order. While in her late sixties, she opened a private home, overseeing the recovery of 21 men addicted to drugs and alcohol. Sister Helen is not in the business of charm school; these men of all shapes and sizes and colors must live by her rules, including on-demand urine samples, adherence to strict curfews, participation in community service, and attendance at house meetings at her discretion. Helen battles her own health problems, all the while worrying about the sons under her care. The film succeeds because of its fly-on-the-wall technique, as well as its compelling, true story of Sister Helen. She is not the nun of grade school nightmares; she is real life: mother, advisor, healer, bad cop, and conduit to a higher power. Tough love never had it so good.

Directors
Rebecca Cammisa, Rob Fruchtman

Producer
Rob Fruchtman, Rebecca Cammisa

Cinematography
Rebecca Cammisa, Rob Fruchtman, Peter Pearce, Scott Sinkler, Andrew Holbrooke, Alex Aurichio

Editing
Jonathan Oppenheim, Juliet Weber

Print Source
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