section Documentary Film Competition

A Still Small Voice

  • Luke Lorentzen
  • US
  • 2023
  • 93

How do you help people in extreme situations between life and death? Mati, a young hospital chaplain, navigates between a spiritual calling and the hardships of everyday hospital life. She finds her way between the desire to help, doubts about her Jewish faith and her own traumas.

Margaret Engel, known as Mati, and her colleagues are completing a year-long residency as hospital chaplains at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. Their task is to provide spiritual care to terminally ill patients and their relatives. This entails enduring situations that are difficult to bear whilst always trying to ease the pain and suffering a little. Mati suffers under the burden that this role places on her soul, after all her own life story is also marked by hurt and trauma. Added to this are the inhumane hospital rules during the corona pandemic. Mati tries to find a way to survive under these circumstances. In this sense the Jewish faith proves both a help and a hindrance.
Luke Lorentzen accompanies his protagonist on very intimate encounters with patients in which she openly and at times defencelessly engages with their plight. In supervision sessions her trainee group reflects on the challenging nature of their work, in the process walking the fine line between a sense of responsibility and self-protection.

Text: Susanne Stern
English: Peter Rickerby

Following the screenings there will be a Q&A with the protagonist Mati Engel.


original title A Still Small Voice

international title A Still Small Voice

german title A Still Small Voice

JFBB section Documentary Film Competition

  • director Luke Lorentzen

country/countries US

year 2023

duration 93

Portrait of Luke Lorentzen

Luke Lorentzen

BIO Luke Lorentzen is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and a graduate of Stanford University's department of Art and Art History. His most recent film, Midnight Family, tells the story of a family-run ambulance business in Mexico City.The film has won over 35 awards from film festivals and organizations around the world including a Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Editing from the International Documentary Association, and the Golden Frog for Best Documentary from Camerimage. Midnight Family was shortlisted for the 2020 Best Documentary Oscar and was a New York Times ‘Critics’ Pick’. Luke’s other work as a director and cinematographer includes the Netflix original series, Last Chance U, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary in 2020. With Kellen Quinn, Luke is a co-founder of the independent production company Hedgehog Films.