The Innocents | Les Innocentes | 2016 Seattle International Film Festival
France | 2016 | 115 minutes | Anne Fontaine
French filmmaker Anne Fontaine's deeply moving new drama takes place in 1945 Poland, where a young French Red Cross doctor discovers an order of Benedictine nuns searching for help and redemption after a series of assaults by the "liberating" Red Army.
Only months after the end of World War II, Mathilde, a young French Red Cross doctor, is working in Warsaw when she's approached by a nun, frantic and begging for help. Mathilde is brought to a small Benedictine convent, where she discovers several sisters impregnated and needing desperate medical attention following a violent ambush by the Red Army. The faith of these women is markedly shaken—they believe even touching a member of the opposite sex is a sin that could send you straight to Hell. Fearing the exposure and shame that would come from the newly installed Communist government, the convent seeks ultimate discretion. Mathilde, an agnostic, troublingly becomes the only source of hope for these women, as their faith is challenged and they must reconcile what has happened to them with their religious devotion. Director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel, Adore, Gemma Bovery) keeps the distance needed to craft a story about science versus faith that doesn't condemn either side, focusing on the difficulty of staying true to oneself amid horrible obstacles, while cinematographer Caroline Champetier reverently sheds a soft, graceful light on a tragically dark circumstance.
Anne Fontaine was born in Luxembourg as Anne Sibertin-Blanc. Fontaine wrote and directed Gemma Bovery (SIFF 2015) and co-wrote and directed Coco Before Chanel (2009). Fontaine also directed the Australian film Two Mothers (SIFF 2013) and the Isabelle Huppert vehicle My Worst Nightmare (SIFF French Cinema Now 2013).
Sponsored by Seattle - Nantes Sister City Association
Director: Anne Fontaine
Principal Cast: Lou de Laâge, Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Joanna Kulig, Vincent Macaigne