Cinephellas Podcast – Episode 17 (Interview with Brendan Muldowney)

Fostering Faith: A Conversation with Brendan Muldowney

By Christopher M. Rzigalinski

What is faith? What does it mean to actively have faith in something? How necessary is it to have faith in yourself versus a higher power? These are just some of the philosophical questions I discuss with Irish director Brendan Muldowney on this edition of the Cinephellas Podcast. I got keen insight into the quest for spirituality that informs his new film Pilgrimage, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The film, set in 13th century Ireland, tells the story of a small group of monks who begin a reluctant pilgrimage across their country, which has been torn between centuries of tribal warfare and the growing threat of Norman invaders. They are tasked to help deliver a sacred Christian relic to Rome, but their travels become increasingly dangerous and lead the monks to question the meaning of faith. Pilgrimage was written by Jamie Hannigan and stars Spider-Man Homecoming’s Tom Holland, Baby Driver’s Jon Bernthal, and Hannibal’s Richard Armitage.

On the podcast I talk with a lot of American filmmakers, writers, and performers that either work  independently or have to navigate the Hollywood studio system. But in Ireland the nationalized  Irish Film Board approves content and helps coordinate funding. So I asked Brendan about his experience going through that process. We also discuss the little-known Biblical figure Matthias, the 13th Apostle who replaced Judas. His story plays a central role in Pilgrimage. My biggest goal, however, was to dig deep into the film’s central philosophical questions. For me, the most important question is whether or not suffering and sacrifice have to take place to in order to prove one’s religious faith. Moreover, what are the lines between organized religious practice and spirituality? The conversation made me reflect on my own life, and I hope it will make you do the same.  

Make sure to check out Pilgrimage when it hits theaters, VOD platforms, and Digital HD on August 11, 2017. Its search for answers to some of life’s most daunting questions warrants 4.5 out of 5 hairpieces. Journalists and reviewers often use the cliche that viewers should go out and decide for themselves the effectiveness of a movie. This time it’s not a cliche. Pilgrimage has to be experienced to be understood. You can follow the film’s journey by following the Irish Film Board on Twitter (@IrishFilmBoard).


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