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The Independent Critic

Terence Netter, Therese Netter
Lloyd Kramer, Scott Chestnut
25 Mins.

 "The Spiritual Exercises" Has World Premiere at Indy Shorts 

What risks of the heart are worth taking?

It was 1960s New York when Terence Netter met Therese Franzese. Netter was a rising star in the art world; Franzese worked at the famed Metropolitan opera. 

They fell in love. 

There was only one problem. Netter was a Jesuit priest who had taken a vow of celibacy. 

Making its world premiere at the 2020 Indy Shorts International Film Festival in Indianapolis, Lloyd Kaufman and Scott Chestnut's The Spiritual Exercises is a beautifully produced, engaging short documentary about a love story in the face of seemingly impossible odds. The interview subjects, both Terence and Therese, are well spoken, personable, and so very obviously in love 50+ years later that you can't help but be taken away by their stories. 

The Spiritual Exercises doesn't shy away from the serious life implications of the love story between Terence and Therese, perhaps especially for Terence as he became increasingly convinced following studies with theologian Karl Rahner that married priesthood was possible and simply made sense. By the time he returned to the United States, however, it became apparent in the increasingly conservative U.S. Catholic church that such a possibility was incredibly unlikely. As is captured so powerfully in the film, the costs were great and, at times, it seemed as if every negative that unfolded for the couple was attributed to God's wrath. 

Alas, it would appear they enjoyed the last laugh, if you will, by enjoying a lengthy marriage and successful lives. 

Screening as a finalist at Indy Shorts, The Spiritual Exercises is a warm and enjoyable 25-minute documentary that can be seen as part of the Finalist 3 Block of films during this year's virtual festival. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic