Oscar winner fronts an ensemble cast in first preview for the Sundance drama

Melissa Leo commands the attention of a cowering Catholic school in the riveting trailer for Margaret Betts’ directorial debut, Novitiate.

A coming-of-age tale spanning the early 1950s through the late ’60s, Novitiate follows a young girl, Cathleen (The Leftovers starMargaret Qualley), and her undying passion for the divine, as she breaks away from her rural Tennessee mother’s (Julianne Nicholson) grasp and into the clutches of religious servitude at a no-nonsense, devout institution. There, her wide-eyed aspirations are met by the strict ruling hand of Reverend Mother (Leo), causing her to question her convictions.

“You’ll be spending the next six months as postulants… any questions?” the domineering leader asks her underlings. When a hand is raised, she responds: “Put your hands down, sister, postulants have no questions. And you are free to go home.”

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The Novitiate trailer goes on to show Cathleen’s budding adulthood under the watchful eye of her superiors, who encourage extreme acts of penance all while the church undergoes a radical shift as a result of the progressive reformations under Pope John XXIII’s Vatican II.

In addition to the aforementioned actors, Novitiate also stars Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor, Liana Liberato, and American Horror Story‘s Denis O’Hare.

Sony Pictures Classics is likely readying an awards campaign for the film — particularly Leo’s performance — which debuted at Sundance earlier this year; it has a scheduled stop at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Novitiate is set for release on Oct. 27. Watch the film’s new trailer above.

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