Sister Simone Campbell and her band of rebel nuns fight to save democracy in this quirky, moving journey across a divided America.
“You and your fellow nuns have clearly gone rogue”
— Stephen Colbert
NUNS ON THE BUS is a feature-length documentary following Sister Simone Campbell, the charismatic leader of the historic Nuns On The Bus tours, as she and her team of rebel nuns challenge both the Catholic Church and US Government to reclaim their core values. Laced with humor and filmed with intimate vérité access over the course of five tumultuous years in US politics (2012 to 2017), the film takes the viewer on a heartrending journey through the socioeconomic and political divides of the nation and examines what it means to be a rebellious nun in 21st century America.
Sister Simone is a troublemaker.
In 2012, the Vatican censured the majority of American nuns for promoting “radical feminist themes,” and singled out Simone’s organization NETWORK, a 40-year old Catholic social justice lobbying group founded by nuns, for focusing on poverty and justice rather than speaking out against abortion and same-sex marriage. But instead of backing down, Simone and the sisters were more determined than ever. They responded to the censure by launching “Nuns On The Bus”: a yearly cross-country tour that aims to draw attention to inequality, stir up communities to fight for systemic change, and amplify the voices of ordinary Americans struggling every day to keep their families well fed, health insured, and safe from police violence and deportation.
Along the way, Simone emerges as a leader, and the tours elevate her to celebrity status. She appears on every talk show from 60 Minutes to The Colbert Report, testifies before Congress and speaks at the Democratic National Convention, and is invited to a one-on-one meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office. But prominence brings new challenges and conflicts, and Simone and her fellow nuns must wrestle with the tensions between their deep commitments and what’s “politically possible,” between the desire to achieve change quickly and the need to listen, and between the “religious left” movement the tours ignite and conservative faith-based voices. Will they be able to make the changes they hope to inspire? Can they keep their promises to the people they swore to defend?
With grace and humor, the film follows Simone behind the scenes of the media spotlight to evenings of wine-fueled joviality with her sisters and contemplative moments spent examining the difficult truths of the stories they’re encountering on the road. We come to understand that the nuns’ vows to the Church are not a closing off from personal relationships or contemporary society, but a radical openness to building community with each other and the world. Tracing Simone’s hero’s journey through a time of momentous change within both the Catholic Church and American politics, the film offers a nuanced and complex exploration of the role of faith in policy making, the role of government in combating inequality, and what it means to truly dedicate your life to social justice and community.
"I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper."
— Sister Simone Campbell
We hope this film will serve as a springboard to inspire each of us to find our own voice and stand up to make a difference. Our goal is to use the film as a tool to inspire people to listen to each other and work together in search of new solutions that work for all Americans.