Catalog No.: FTF-026 | 
In Theaters: March 9, 2012 | 
Director: Jarred Alterman | 
Length: 68 minutes
 | Year: 2011


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Prima ballerina Geraldine, photographer Kees, and their two boys, Christiaan and Louis, left Holland in 1980 to take up residence at the Convento São Francisco de Mértola. Strategically situated at the convergence of two rivers in southeastern Portugal, this vacant monastery was left decaying for centuries until the Zwanikken family arrived and transformed it with their eccentric and earthy endeavors. In the airy studio converted from the estate's chapel, son Christiaan builds kinetic sculptures from discarded electronics and the skulls and bones of deceased wildlife. Combining the family's home movies with his own observant photography, filmmaker Jarred Alterman casts these fantastical creatures as supporting characters in the film, as they literally move across the landscape, animating the ancient grounds. - Margaret Mead Film Festival Guide

Starring: Christiaan Zwanikken, Geraldine Zwanikken, Louis Zwanikken and Robots

 Festivals: SXSW, Maryland Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, CIFF, IMA, DocFest Berlin, Docuwest, Leeds Internatioinal Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, Rooftop Films, CameraImage, Provincetown Film Festival and IFFBoston

Awards: Best Documentary IFFBoston


"Convento is Hallucinogenic, No Drugs Required"
-Eric Kohn, Indiewire

"Jarred Alterman emphasizes oddball lyricism in the one-of-a-kind "Convento"
 -Ronnie Scheib, Variety

"Unsettling and strangely reassuring." 
-Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine 

"An Intriguing & Moving Look at Art and Life"
-Christopher Bell, The Playlist 

"A fertile portrait of the creative marriage between the organic and inorganic."
-Nick Schager, The Village Voice 

One of the top 10 Documentaries of the year: "Convento is a real life fantasy film that’s unlike any documentary film I’ve seen this year."
-Jay Cheel, The Documentary Blog

"Captures haunting energy and mechanical splendor." 
-Erin McCarthy, Popular Mechanics

"Wildly Captivating. Strangely beautiful."
-Noah Lee, Film Threat

"A lovely reminder of the things that really matter." 
-Michael Tully, Pick of the Week: Filmmaker Magazine/Hammer to Nail

"An unorthodox doc about an unorthodox family of artists." 
-Matt Singer, 

In Theaters

August 31, 2012
Chicago Filmmakers/Adler Planetarium
Chicago, IL
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July 27- August 2, 2012
Downtown Independent Theater
Los Angeles, CA
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April 17, 2012
Space Gallery 
Portland, ME
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March 16 - 22nd, 2012
The Texas Theatre
Dallas, TX
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March 9th, 2012
Rerun Theater
Brooklyn, NY
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January 9th
Austin Film Society
Austin, TX 
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An Experiment