Brother Joseph and the Grotto tells the “true fairy tale” of Brother Joseph Zoettl, the tiny Bavarian hunchback monk who built Ave Maria Grotto, a miniature city of recycled materials in the Alabama woods of Saint Bernard Abbey. Brother Joseph had a stepmother, took a long journey, got a new name, conducted a superhuman feat, lived in the woods, was “protected” by a godmother, and more – all features of classic fairy tales. This documentary is thus framed as one and constructed of interviews, reenactments, voluminous archival footage and storybook illustrations.
The feature-length documentary especially appeals to religious communities, folk art lovers, history buffs, immigrant populations, and those with disabilities. Interviewees include Pulitzer-Prize nominee Wayne Flynt, Abbot Cletus Meagher of Saint Bernard Abbey, and singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, whose song "Ave Maria Grotto" helped inspire the film.