Director Maggie Betts’ Sundance film Novitiate tells the story of a young woman training to be a nun and grappling with issues of faith and sexuality in the 1960s. Cinematographer Kat Westergaard speaks to Filmmaker Magazine about how painters like Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent inspired the look of the film.
“I wanted to give this film a more formal and filmic look, as well as convey the emotional journey of our main character, while keeping her at a slight distance. Maggie wanted the audience to feel as though they were peering into a world not their own, creating a kind of ‘ghostly intimacy,’ like an invisible spectator,” she says. “I specifically looked at Rembrandt portrait paintings as well as John Singer Sargent for inspiration. Specifically the almost washed out dark grays, coppers and hunter greens of their backgrounds and the creamy skin tones. I wanted the convent to have a lot of texture – especially Mother Superior’s office and rooms, to feel almost heavy to the audience. These painters were a great reference.”
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