Review: “Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me A Saint”

dday-filmDirector Claudia Larson’s DVD documentary Dorothy Day: Don’t Call Me a Saint is a “must see” because Day, Catholic anarchist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, is no ordinary saint.

Based on 14 years of research, Larson presents the intimate Day through private writings, interviews, and compelling images of her life and times. Day, currently under consideration for sainthood by the Vatican, was inspired by the gospels, the lives of the saints, and the teachings of her Roman Catholic faith.

SYNOPSIS: Tells the story of the New York writer and Catholic anarchist who at the height of the Depression unwittingly created what would become a worldwide peace and social justice movement. The Catholic Worker persists to this day in over 180 houses of hospitality and soup kitchens across the United States, in Europe, Australia, Canada and Mexico. Their tenet is based on doing works of mercy and living in voluntary poverty with no attachments to Church or State.

And although the Vatican is currently considering Dorothy Day for canonization, she is no ordinary saint. Caught up in the Bohemian whirl of 1917 Greenwich Village, Dorothy wrote for radical papers, associated with known Communists, attempted suicide and had an illegal abortion, a doomed common-law marriage and a child out of wedlock. The birth of her only child led to her religious conversion.

The film takes us through Dorothy’s protests of the 1950’s air-raid drills, her last arrest in 1973 with the United Farm Workers and to her death on November 29, 1980 at the home she founded for homeless women on New York’s Bowery.

Interviews with Dorothy, her daughter, and close intimates coupled with never-before-seen family photographs, personal writings and powerful archival footage paint a dramatic picture of Dorothy’s most difficult journey to create and live out a vision of a more just world.

This is a really fantastic film that gives an inside look at the grittiness of Day’s life, which makes her compassion and courage shine all that more brightly.

Take a look at the newly launched Web site promoting the film. Show it in your church and have a lively discussion. A book supplement to the film should be out soon.

(NOTE: This film is not just for Catholics. Everyone will appreciate Dorothy’s feisty engagement with faith and life.)

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