Gardening with soul

Sister Loyola’s insights into life, gardening, history and religion are artfully woven through this film.


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Reviewer: Rivqa Rafael

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A great deal spritelier than most ninety-year-olds, Sister Loyola is more likely to be found making compost or planting seedlings than idling away her days.

She’s a nun and chief gardener at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, and for her, gardening and faith are intricately linked, each nourishing the other.

Director Jess Feast filmed Sister Loyola over the course of a year, and divided the 96-minute documentary Gardening with Soul by season, showcasing the garden in all its stages.

Local musician David Long’s soundtrack is a perfect match to the gorgeous images of Sister Loyola, her garden and her beautiful wider environment.

But it’s not just pretty pictures; Sister Loyola’s insights into life, history and religion are woven through artfully.

Her thoughts about faith, which are never preachy but are always thoughtful and honest; her idea, arising from the Depression, of gardens as spaces of sharing; her recollections of the hardships people go through and how she helped them; and her thoughts on self-sufficiency and what type of seaweed works best in compost – these are what make this film a real delight.

In selected cinemas across Australia and New Zealand from 29 May, 2014.

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