Cannes Film Festival, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, CPH:DOX, Torino

Director's statement

Director's statement

This film touches on many topics that are relevant to today’s America. Religion and faith are very prominent in the film, as they are in the South in general. In many ways, the experience of going back to stricter interpretations of religious ideology is very endemic to the US. Perhaps, insular communities feel the need to hold on tightly to their traditions and values because there is the risk of their identities being dissolved. Guns are also a big part of the culture of the South, with deep held convictions that date back to the nation’s founding. The role of women in family and society is also brought up in the film repeatedly. These are all complicated and controversial issues. With this film, I chose to depict realities that are open to interpretation, rather than further my own personal ideology.


“Stop the Pounding Heart” transcends both the red state-blue state split and limited, didactic ideas of cinematic realism. Its scenes, quiet and undramatic, are nonetheless suffused with an almost lyrical intensity, and its sympathy is as limitless as its curiosity. Mr. Minervini practices a kind of ecstatic humanism masquerading as ethnography. The people in his film, as we come to know them, seem very familiar, and if they also seem mysterious, it is partly because the rest of us are, too.

The New York Times

Italian director Roberto Minervini’s “Stop the Pounding Heart” begins as a plotless look at daily life among a family of Chrisian goat-farmers in rural Texas. But Minervini’s quasi-fictional look at the exploits of the Carlson family slowly develops an emotional core by fixating on the perspective of confused teenager Sara, who plays herself as she grapples with questions of faith and responsibility. Less documentary than document, “Stop the Pounding Heart” provides a snapshot of the coming-of-age experience with a shocking amount of intimacy.


Where “Heart” excels, however, is simply in capturing the rhythm of life, particularly in Sara’s household, which makes time for prayer, scripture readings and home-schooling lessons. Naturally, Sara is full of doubts and question


Minervini has created a moving portrait of feminism born out of hard work and intuitiveness, but he never belittles or condescends to the faithful


The film’s main conflict takes a long time to surface, and then does so only in the most subdued terms. But while Stop the Pounding Heart will be too unhurried and detached in its observations for some, it remains engrossing.

The Hollywood Reporter

Viewers on guard for the sin of condescension will have their expectations dashed. Minervini has clearly earned his performers’ trust, and refrains from editorializing. If anything, his and cinematographer Diego Romero Suarez-Llanos’s HD camera is too in awe of the locals’ quotidian routines and the soggy environs of Waller, Texas. But with a delicate touch, Minervini is able to fashion his material into a quietly compelling narrative.

Film Comment

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