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Director Mary Knight draws on social work, her own past for dramatic comedy 'Sister Mary's Angel'

A director is returning to the Oregon City church where her movie, "Sister Mary's Angel," was partially filmed for a free screening in August.

Mary Knight filmed the dramatic comedy at the church in May 2010. She also is the leader of the sisters women's group at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls, which she started attending in 2005.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mary Knight self financed her movie Sister Marys Angel, about two sisters, one who is a nun and the other a lingerie model.Although it's actually Unitarian, then-SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mary Knight, 'Sister Mary's Angel' director, was married in the church where she filmed the movie.called Atkinson Memorial Church in Oregon City was used as the convent in the film. The Aug. 12 screening will be the Oregon City premiere of "Sister Mary's Angel."

The Tigard filmmaker presented her first feature-length film in a well-attended 2014 premiere at Joy Cinema on Southwest Pacific Highway.

"Sister Mary's Angel" tells the story of estranged twin sisters, a Catholic nun and a lingerie model, who swap places after one is diagnosed with breast cancer and requires urgent medical treatment.

"Some convents are in churches, and it's a big church, so it seemed believable," Knight said.

When she lived in Oregon City, she worked on the script in a Clackamas Community College writing class that included a former nun.

The story first came to Knight about 20 years ago, when she was working as a social worker. She took film classes at the Northwest Film Center to learn how to tell her story.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - 'Sister Marys Angel,' is a dramatic comedy about two sisters, a nun and a lingerie model who switch places. The film will have its world premiere Saturday in Tigard.Knight served as a writer, director and SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mary Knight and her husband, Jerry Witler, celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary at Atkinson Memorial Church on Aug. 1, 2015.producer of the project, hiring most of the cast and crew through Craigslist. The film's stars, sisters Kris and Alix Angelis, are professional actors who were living on opposite sides of the country when filming began.

Filming began in May 2010, using locations in Tigard, Sherwood, Canby, Oregon City and Portland.

Knight ended up marrying Jerry Witler at Atkinson Memorial Church on Aug. 1, 2010, and also celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary there. One of the twins, Alex Angelis (who played the lingerie model), has since married the person she was dating at the time of the filming (who played her boyfriend in "Sister Mary's Angel").

About a third of the film was shot at Witler's business, Northwest Forestry Services in Tigard. Witler's office was transformed into the lingerie model's apartment, complete with a king-size bed.

A recipient of the Clackamas Women's Services 2013 Triumph Award, Knight explored her own verbally abusive former marriage in the short, "One Man's Anger, One Woman's Love," which is viewed nationally by survivors of domestic violence and professionals who work with them.

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and some sexual content, "Sister Mary's Angel" does share some elements with her past work. The siblings took different roads after a traumatic childhood involving abuse, but the film is really a comedy about sisters, Knight said.

Knight retired from a 20-year career as a social worker, soon after shooting wrapped on the film, dedicating herself full time to filmmaking.

The local filmmaker interacts with people who thought she misremembered her own childhood when shooting her recently released documentary, "Am I Crazy? My Journey to Determine if My Memories are True."

"Am I Crazy?" dives into an issue that is both stomach-churning and controversial. Knight's premise is that as a child, her parents subjected her to ritual sexual and emotional abuse, and the production of child pornography.

The road to happiness and acceptance for Knight included counseling, yoga, massage therapy, meditation and a strong spiritual belief. She wants survivors to know that healing is possible, but that it includes a painful process.

"Am I Crazy?" will show at noon Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The film has not been rated, but it is not appropriate for children. Teens will be allowed to attend if accompanied by their parents.

Sidebar

Catch the show

What: "Sister Mary's Angel" premiere in Oregon City. It's a dramatic comedy about a lingerie model who trades places with her identical twin sister, a Catholic nun, in order to receive medical treatment.

Rated: PG-13

Where: Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Willamette Falls, 710 Sixth St.

When: Noon Sunday, Aug. 12

Cost: Free

More: sistermarysangel.com


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