Catherine Finsness


Cloistered  is an observational portrait of a cloistered, contemplative monastery in New Jersey. Save for rare circumstances, the sisters never venture beyond the convent’s walls and spend most of their days in silence and prayer. The nuns who live there have vowed to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They have decided to give up their worldly possessions and all previous relationships to become ‘brides of Christ’. 

Combining footage shot from 2018-2020 with the nuns’ own archival VHS and digital home videos shot since the 90s, Cloistered offers a glimpse into a private realm in which the sisters are down to earth, relatable, and human, and yet are also striving for perfection as they pursue something otherworldly and mysterious.

22 minutes, Digital

Director, Cinematographer, Producer, Editor: Catherine Finsness

Sound Design: Neil Riha

Color: Robert Arnold 


Premiered at San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFilm), Official Selection, Documentary Shorts Competition (2023)

Montclair Film Festival, Official Selection, NJ Shorts Competition (2023)

Montreal Independent Film Festival, Won Best Short Documentary Award (2023)

San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Official Selection, Roxie Theatre (2024) 

Cloistered (5 minute sample), SVA After School Special (2021)


Won Best Short Documentary Award, Montreal Independent Film Festival (2023) 

School of Visual Arts Alumni Editing Residency (2022) 

Selected to represent MFA graduating class at SVA After School Special (2021) 

Selected for DOC NYC Industry Tables (2020) 

Thesis Production Grant, SocDoc Department at The School of Visual Arts (2019) 

Using Format