Whether you want to class them as religions or cults, there are undoubtedly a heck of a lot of them. The fact anyone can create one, is the first sign of danger. Although, it’s almost always men who start them, and ‘coincidentally’ they usually involve some form of free love/bigamy. However, most seem to be rehashes or combinations of existing belief structures, unless they’re totally bonkers. In Valentina Pedicini’s new documentary she shines the light on a strange Faith.

Nestling in a monastery in rural Italy, there’s a sect of martial arts champions who, for the last twenty years, have dedicated themselves to their master and his religion. Using a mix of Catholic and Buddhist theology and philosophy at its base, daily routines are concentrated on pushing mind and body past the limit. Through a mixture of prayer, extreme training regimes, dance and group discussion they ready themselves for the fight to come.

Faith is a strange, beautiful and unnerving documentary about a weird and slightly incomprehensible religion. The central tenets of the master’s creed are more hinted at than investigated, including a few murky silhouettes. Pedicini’s focus is on unobtrusively observing them at their circadian tasks, learning from experiencing rather than studying doctrine. What makes Faith such an immersive and riveting experience is the gorgeous cinematography from Bastian Esser. It’s a curious, thoughtful and spellbinding film.

Faith screens as part of Open City Documentary Festival between 9-12 September.