Movie – Monk Arsenije
Director- Svetlana Cemin
“The same God who loves us as we are also loves us too much to leave us as we are. Perhaps because we tend to hold to ideas about God that reflect our own suppositions and fears, more than God’s self-revelation. We reduce God to our own dimensions, ascribing to him our own reactions and responses, especially our own petty and conditional kind of love, and so end up believing in a God cast in our own image and likeness.
But the true God, the living God, is entirely “other”:. Precisely from this radical otherness derives the inscrutable and transcendent nature of divine love– for which our limited human love is but a distant metaphor. God’s love is much more than our human love simply multiplied and expanded. God’s love for us will ever be a mystery; unfathomable, awesome, entirely beyond human expectation.” ― Joseph Langford
Serbia born, Brooklyn based writer, director, producer, and the founder of 610FILM, an art-house film production company Svetlana Cemin presents an intimate narration of Monk Arsenije Jovanovic through her documentary film “Monk Arsenije”. She shows an up close and personal representation of the monk’s life.
Monk Arsenije is presently serving as an abbot in Église Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Ribnica in Serbia. Presently he is one of most well known orthodox abbots in the Serbian Orthodox church. In his youth, he was immersed deep into the punk music, rock music and culture and various avant garde traditions of Belgrade and NYC. Lost and deflected, he eventually rediscovered Orthodox christisnity as the only answer to his questions. After embracing the truth he became a monk, living for a period of over 5 years as a solitary desert dweller. Through this transition, the Monk has learnt resilience and true value of Christ and his sacrifices.In the movie we get a glimpse of his daily chores as he allows us to be a part of his daily routine as a monk- we see him during prayer and the service afterwards, and we also get a first hand experience of how he prioritises culturing Orthodoxy before anything else.
The Orthodox Churches are united in faith and by a common approach to theology, tradition, and worship. They draw on elements of Greek, Middle-Eastern, Russian and Slav culture. In the movie, the director shows how the youthful and free natured and unorthodox believer Arsenije found his salvation through the path of God. The monk has been a tremendously talented painter and presently he is deeply involved with the restoration process of his church which was plundered by the Turks in the 19th century. In the movie the monk also reflects on his troubles in the past and takes us through his journey. His resilience, his calm manner and his story of transformation is so positive and inspiring. His journey from an unruly, free spirited, experimental artist to a monk and then abbot has not been a smooth path. But still, he fought on and reached his salvation.
The movie is shot from close observation. Svetlana has been in close contact with the monk from the days of her youth, and that emotional attachment is shown in the sensibly shot movie. She dedicates her film to, “Monk Arsenie, a friend from my youth, someone who impressed me with his transformation from an avangarde artist to a spiritual leader of Serbia.” The film also captures the beauty of Serbia and is definitely a visual treat to all its viewers.