The documentary ‘Mary Magdalene in Conversation with Lilian Broca’ is a visual and intellectual feast that forcibly confronts and challenges long ingrained historic and contemporary norms of female inequality. In these days of feminine discourse relating to the reassessment of women’s issues, more than anyone, the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene deserves to be revisited and re-evaluated. For close to 2,000 years her persona has been defiled, defamed and reviled. It is time to correct this unfortunate and unjust label.

Placed in a modern day setting, Broca in spiritual alliance with the biblical figure Mary Magdalene weaves a wondrous, animated and engaging tale recounting her long and arduous creative journey. The artist chooses the perfect medium, mosaics, for restoring the high social status Mary Magdalene enjoyed in 1st c. CE. In the distant past mosaics were reserved for celebrating mostly masculine achievements. Therefore, in continuity with ancient tradition, Broca inserts her awe-inspiring Venetian glass mosaics of a female Biblical heroine into the historic timeline, as she deems it necessary to redress history’s sin of omission. In post-modern fashion, using monumental mosaic panels Lilian Broca supersedes the boundaries of linear time with images that highlight the Biblical heroine’s multidimensional stature as a female powerhouse in her own right.

CEMA Best Documentary Award 2022

director’s notes

Canadian filmmaker Adelina Suvagau in her capacity of documentary film director, creatively contributes with authentic and spontaneous improvisations to the direction of “Mary Magdalene in Conversation with Lilian Broca” a Cinéma vérité film dialogue between the mosaic artist Lilian Broca, and Mary Magdalene. Selecting and casting Adriana Villi who impersonated Mary Magdalene was a vitally important and challenging artistic endeavour.

In the director’s concept for this documentary film, Mary Magdalene travels from her ancient time to the present in order to meet with the artist in her Vancouver studio. The spiritual connection and personal bond between them, apparent in all mosaics in the series, is based on Lilian’s Broca’s personal journal and her research on Mary Magdalene’s varied representations over the centuries in art and in Biblical literature.


“Consisting of thousands of sherds of glass, Lilian Broca’s work seeks to reconstruct the image of Mary Magdalene first in mosaic glass and later through the pixelations of digital film under the direction Adelina Suvagau. This artistic rendering is a rebuilding, reconstructing, retracing, and re-examining exercise for Lilian Broca in reclaiming a world that is fundamentally broken with its resurgence of racism, antisemitism, and gender-related violence. Inspired by the Hebrew expression “Tikkun Olam”, or, “Heal the world”, Broca takes us on a journey of a broken heroine, reframing, revivifying and re-embodying her to remind us that both Jewish and Christian faiths arise from the same traditions; even essential in the darkest of times, when resurrection and reunion is possible.”
Angela Clarke, PHD

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts