Inquiring Nuns

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Inquiring Nuns
Inquiring Nuns poster.jpg
Directed by Gerald Temaner
Gordon Quinn
Starring Sister Marie Arné
Sister Mary Campion
Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography Gordon Quinn
Edited by Gordon Quinn
Distributed by Kartemquin Films
Release date
Running time
66 min.
Country USA
Language English

Inquiring Nuns is a 1968 Kartemquin Films production directed by Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner. The documentary film features Sisters Marie Arne and Mary Campion, two young Catholic nuns who visit a variety of Chicago locales to ask people the question, "Are you happy?"[1] They meet a variety of individuals ranging from hippie musicians to intellectuals, whose responses are everything from the mundane to the spiritual. The film was directly influenced by Jean Rouch's Chronique d'un été,[2] which Quinn and Temaner had watched at Doc Films while they were undergraduates at the University of Chicago.[3]

Quinn and Temaner's fourth collaboration was produced for about $16,000 ($110,005 US in 2016) for Chicago's Catholic Adult Education Center which never suggested any changes or requested a single edit. Both Sisters Marie Arne and Mary Campion served at the St. Denis Parish in Chicago's Southwest Side at the time of the filming. They subsequently left the sisterhood within a few years after the film's release, the former eventually becoming a family counselor in the Chicago suburbs and the latter a school superintendent in Florida. One of the random people they encountered in the film was Stepin Fetchit who showed a few of his publicity shots and stated that he was happy.[3]

An Official Selection of the 1969 Chicago International Film Festival, Inquiring Nuns features music by the then relatively unknown composer Philip Glass (Truman Show, Fog of War) who was paid $100 ($688 US in 2016) for earning his first film credit.[3][4] Recently re-released on DVD, Entertainment Weekly graded Inquiring Nuns an 'A' and applauded the film's "reaffirmation of the virtue of conventional wisdom".[5]

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