The Cloud of Unknowing

In 2018 Wes Cannon and Anthony Farenwald approached us with their concept for a documentary about our monastery. With the Abbot’s permission they interviewed some of the monks and discreetly filmed us at prayer. Anthony & Wes co-directed and produced the film which they eventually entitled The Cloud of Unknowing. The short film explores connections between Christian mysticism, monasticism and urban spirituality, offering a visual and observational exploration of contemplation, Christian mysticism and the quest for God. The film is meant to raise the question: What if there’s more to all of this? The Cloud of Unknowing won Best NH Short Documentary at the New Hampshire Film Festival 29 and was accepted into the Orlando Film Festival as well as the BendFilm Festival. The film made its broadcast debut on Vermont PBS the day after Christmas 2019.

Wes and Anthony describe making the film as a spiritual journey, as they observed us and got to know our beloved Fr. Matthew who died not long after the film was completed. When we asked if we could put their film on our Abbey website, Wes wrote: “Making this film was very meaningful to me, and we would love for the film to have a home on the Spencer Abbey website. It’s really an honor. It’s very special that the film was able to resonate with you. That’s always our hope as filmmakers, and we’re very encouraged that the film is able to reflect some of the beauty of your monastic life.”

The Filmmakers

Wes has spent most of his career as a freelancer working on a variety of TV productions for PBS, ABC and National Geographic, as well independent films. He is interested in producing ethnographic pieces about American religion, in addition to the artistic intersection between cinema and spirituality.

Anthony takes an experimental approach to nonfiction with a methodology that focuses on ethics, immersion and new modes of the audio-visual. Through the lens of anthropology, his work seeks to represent experiences of the sublime. Aside from his personal work, Anthony works as a DP and gaffer on independent films.