Coming Fall 2024

Final Vows

Four years in the life of a cloistered order of nuns at Santa Rita Abbey.

Final Vows chronicles the life of a cloistered order of nuns at Santa Rita Abbey, a Cistercian monastery in the high desert of Arizona.

The nuns, who take a vow that binds them to remain in the community they entered for life, candidly share their joys and struggles. While each woman’s journey is unique, they all felt a call and chose to join this community of prayer and work. The nuns rise at 4am for their first prayers of the day and support themselves through the mechanized production and sale of altar bread. The Abbey faces challenges as the nuns are aging and few young women are choosing a monastic life. The Abbess, a life-sustaining presence for this striving community, may be required to step down soon when she turns 75 years old. Made from small moments of daily life, the film serves as a meditation on aging and caring for others and asks viewers to consider if this lifestyle offers any wisdom for our society.

Final Vows Crew

Producer and Director

Victoria Westover

Victoria Westover is a producer/director of films and film events and a film programmer. She worked in non-profit arts management for over 30 years. From 2004-2020 Victoria served as the Director of the Hanson FilmTV Institute at The University of Arizona. Her credits include the international feature film The Wall (Co-producer); the documentary Firelighters (Producer); the documentary Almost an Island (Executive Producer); the documentary Hippie Family Values (Executive Producer); the US/Mexico feature 600 Miles - Best First Film, Berlin International Film Festival (Arizona Unit Producer); the documentary Apache 8 (Producer); the documentary The Music Never Ends (Executive Producer); the documentary Final Vows (Producer/Director); and the documentary Wittig, Yes! (Producer). Victoria has served on committees, panels, and juries, including for Cinema Tropical; the AFI in Washington, D.C.; and the HBO/NALIP Documentary Awards. She is the co-director/co-programmer of Cinema Tucsón. Victoria is a member of the Documentary Producers Alliance.


Susan Slonaker

Susan Slonaker is a film producer and creative consultant with over 30 years of experience in development, production, post-production and strategic marketing. Her focus has been on helping both emerging and seasoned independent filmmakers to articulate and execute their visions at all stages of a project. Susan has held key creative roles in over 40 worldwide feature film releases, including Into the West (Co-Producer), The Lemon Sisters (Associate Producer), Strike it Rich (Associate Producer), A Wrinkle in Time (Creative Consultant). As Head of Production for Miramax, Susan oversaw creative and logistical elements of films including My Left Foot, The Thin Blue Line, and Cinema Paradiso. She has served on panels and boards for the Independent Feature Project, Grand Canyon University Digital Arts, Hanson FilmTV Institute and was recently adjunct Film faculty at the University of Arizona. Currently she is producing the feature documentaries Whose Land? O’odham Land! and Final Vows.


Sande Zeig

Sande Zeig has worked in all aspects of the film business, including programming, exhibition, and distribution. She was the founder and President of Artistic License Films, a distributor of independent films based in New York City from 1994-2019. Zeig directed and produced several films, including the short Central Park, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival, 1994; a feature The Girl, based on a short story by French writer Monique Wittig, 2001, which premiered at the Toronto and Berlin International Film Festivals; the documentary Soul Masters, 2008; Apache 8, broadcast on PBS, 2011; Sister Jaguar’s Journey, 2015, and The Living Saint of Thailand, 2019, about Venerable Mae Chee Sansanee Sthirasuta. Firelighters: Fire is Medicine, in post-production, will be broadcast on PBS in 2024. Zeig is currently in pre-production on Wittig,Yes! a documentary about her partner Monique Wittig, a leading figure in the 20th century lesbian feminist movement and a prize-winning French author.

Cinematographer and Editor

Jonathan VanBallenberghe

Jonathan VanBallenberghe is a documentary filmmaker raised in Alaska and now based in Tucson, Arizona, where he heads Open Lens Productions. His films have screened at many festivals, including SXSW, Tribeca (Special Jury Award, Best Documentary Short), and Montana IFF (Jury Award, Best Documentary). His latest film, Almost an Island, was awarded a post-production grant from Vision Maker Media and is currently airing on PBS stations nationwide. He has also won two gold Addy awards for his commercial cinematography. When he is not doing film work, he enjoys hiking, hunting, writing, and knifemaking.

Sound Recordist

Eren Isabella McGinnis

Mexican American filmmaker and location sound recordist, Eren Isabella McGinnis has over 20 credits including POV’s Tobacco Blues, The Girl Next Door (shortlisted for an Oscar), Beyond the Border, The Spirituals, and IL’s Precious Knowledge. As a Fulbright scholar, she spent a year writing and filmmaking in Juchitán, México, while her film works shine a light on social justice and culture. McGinnis is one of the co-founders of Café Sisters Productions, an all-woman filmmaking collective dedicated to bringing a feminist edge to their creations and also to the creative Dos Vatos Productions team. Recent projects have brought her to Poland, Germany, South Korea, Spain, and Japan.

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