Toplining French up-and-comer Lou de Lâage (“Breathe”) and Polish star Agata Kulesza (“Ida”), “Agnus Dei” tells the gripping tale of Mathilde Beaulieu (de Lâage), a young medical doctor who worked with the French Red Cross on a mission to help the French survivors of the German camps in 1945.
Beaulieu’s journey took an unexpected turn during a visit to a convent in Poland where she discovered that several nuns were pregnant. The movie depicts the double bind faced by these young women who had to either accept the responsibilities of motherhood or abandon the “children of sin.”
Brigaud-Robert, who will start pre-selling the project at the European Film Market, said “Anne (Fontaine)’s movies always resonate outside the French borders and I know that this deeply moving story which clearly has a spiritual dimension to it will be no exception.”
Eric and Nicolas Altmayer are producing via their company Mandarin Cinema, whose credits include Remi Bezancon’s “A Happy Event,” Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint-Laurent,” and Francois Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend.”
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Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial, Anne Fontaine and Pascal Bonitzer (“Gemma Bovery”) penned the script.
“When we came across this story, we knew there was a great movie to be made,” said Altmayer. “When I mentioned it to Anne Fontaine two years ago she immediately shared my enthusiasm, and since then, frankly, not a day has gone by without Anne working with us on this project despite her very busy schedule as a director. Anne has put all her heart and energy behind this ambitious film.”
Anne Fontaine is known for delivering movies driven by strong female characters that travel worldwide. Recent examples include “Coco before Chanel” with Tautou, “Gemma Bovery” with Gemma Aterton and “Two Mothers” with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright.
“Agnus Dei” marks the third Anne Fontaine film handled by Films Distribution. The outfit sold “Coco Before Chanel” worldwide. Pic went on to become one of France’s top-grossing film exports with a global B.O. of $44.7 million in 2009.
Fontaine’s regular collaborator Phillippe Carcassonne is co-producing “Agnus Dei” along with Eliza Oczkowska and Klaudia Smieja at Poland’s Aeroplan Film.
Founded by Nicolas Brigaud-Robert and Francois Yon, Films Distribution has handled a flurry of international arthouse hits, from Golden Globe-nominated “Gett” by Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, to Celine Sciamma’s Sundance player “Girlhood” and Francois Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend,” to name a few recent titles.
“Agnus Dei” started shooting Jan. 13 2015. Delivery is expected winter 2015.