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Francois Ozon Set to Make Sexual-Abuse Drama ‘By the Grace of God’

Francois Ozon, whose latest film, “Double Lover,” competed at the Cannes Film Festival last year, is now making “By the Grace of God,” a drama looking at a real-life case of sexual abuses allegedly committed by a French priest in the late 1980s.

“By the Grace of God” is produced by Mandarin Production, in co-production with Playtime, which is also handling international sales. Mars Films will distribute the movie in France on Feb. 20. A world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival is likely.

Now in post-production, the film is inspired by the scandal surrounding Bernard Preynat, a Roman Catholic priest who was accused of having abused scouts from 1986 to 1991, and was only recently indicted after several victims decided to file lawsuits.

“By the Grace of God” follows Alexandre, a man in his 40s living in Lyon with his wife and children, who discovers that the priest who abused him decades ago continues to work with children. He joins forces with François and Emmanuel, who were also victims of the priest, to bring justice and “lift the burden of silence” about what they endured.

The movie, which is headlined by Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet and Swann Arlaud, will be one of Ozon’s most daring and politically minded films to date; although he will be exploring the psychological impact of the abuse on the protagonist’s self-image, he has explored the themes of relationships and midlife crises in previous films.

“By the Grace of God” reunites Ozon with Poupaud, who starred in the helmer’s 2005 drama “Le temps qui reste” and in the 2010 drama “Le Refuge.”

Ozon’s best-known credits include “Swimming Pool,” “Young and Beautiful” and “Double Lovers,” as well as the BAFTA-nominated film “Potiche” and “8 femmes,” which competed at Berlin.

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