Subjects: American Studies, Religion and Spirituality Studies
A Pope John Paul II lollipop. An Elvis Presley shower curtain. A Princess Diana teacup. These are just some of the countless pieces of memorabilia that these pop culture icons’ most devoted fans collect and cherish – but why? The Faithful‘s director, Annie Berman, explores the deep veneration and legacies of the Pope, the Princess, and the King. Over the course of 20 years, Berman profiles these figures’ biggest fans and makes numerous pilgrimages to Vatican City, Graceland, and Kensington Palace. As the years go by, the film itself becomes increasingly entwined with Berman’s daily life and identity, much like how these officially-licensed knick-knacks define the fans she filmed.
“Ruminative, haunting, and strange.” – Boston Globe
"We are centuries away from the days in which church’s would collect relics — such as the embalmed finger of a saint or a vial of a saint’s blood. Berman’s film shows that human nature hasn’t quite moved off from those earlier times. The need behind those impulses — the desires to connect and transcend and stave off a sense of aloneness — remain ever present."**” – San Francisco Chronicle
"More than interviews with the faithful, Berman’s documentary delves into the quality of perceptions of fame. There are insights into how these global figures appeared to the public, the things they said, the expressions on their faces in unguarded moments. You may believe you know who they were, but it takes an artist like Berman to show you something you hadn’t imagined.”– Memphis Flyer
“THE FAITHFUL is my favorite film we’ve screened in my five years as Associate Programmer of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The film manages to be both deeply personal and universal, scratching at the itch of why and how we seek belonging and greater meaning. Annie’s dexterous direction reads almost like a poem, weaving across decades and seamlessly jumping between subjects and stories in a stream of consciousness guided by her unique artistic vision, which provides critical, self-reflexive insights into the nature to textuality and authenticity within a fan-driven world of replication and reproduction. THE FAITHFUL is a must-see not only for those seeking to gain new insights into the nature of fandom, but also into the role of documentarians as active participants in this world, as creators of texts that contribute to bodies of fandom and preserve these images and ideas for generations to come. – Matthew Meier, Associate Programmer, USC School of Cinematic Arts
About the filmmaker
Annie Berman is a NYC based media artist. Her work has shown internationally including MoMA, Spring/Break Art Show, and the Rome Independent Film Festival where she was awarded Best Experimental Film. She teaches documentary film writing at City College, holds an MFA from Hunter College, and is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.