Outside the City + Q&A

2019| PG| 82 mins| /

Dir: Nick Hamer

Outside the city, the monks of Mt St Bernard Abbey, a community of 25 men, more than half of them over 80 years old, are opening the first Trappist brewery in the UK. For their historic, counter cultural lifestyle to survive, the venture must succeed. As the monks reflect on spirituality, ageing and the end of life, the number of burials in the Abbey graveyard continue to grow. Director Nick Hamer spent a year with the monks, gaining privileged access to document their hidden lives. They have turned their backs on the material, consumer society, to focus instead on contemplative spirituality, and to maintain an age-old religious tradition. Life and death in a monastery.

An absorbing documentary about a cloistered community, men who have given up everything in pursuit of an ideal. So what does it mean to live a spiritual life? There’s a tendency
in our culture to imagine it as a journey of acquisition, that we add to ourselves: virtues, peace, knowledge, experience… But for the monks the spiritual life is actually a shedding, a stripping away. They surrender their whole lives, their very will to their brethren, and ultimately leave this world with no possessions or family, they’re not even buried in a coffin, simply wrapped in their robe and placed in a shallow grave.

Outside the city encapsulates the fragility of life and the impermanence of everything, but at the same time the inescapable prevalence of hope. Death and life are two sides of the same coin,the place of decline is the seedbed for growth, restoration and renewal come from decay. If you’re interested in deeper questions about the human experience, if you want to know what it means to give up everything in search of something, then you’ll love Outside the city.