EXCLUSIVE: Helmer Anne Fontaine’s Agnus Dei is set to debut early next week in the Sundance Film Festival’s Premieres section. Today, we’ve got the first trailer (above) for the Franco-Polish drama. Set in 1945 Poland and based on a true story, it focuses on Mathilde (Lou De Laâge), a young Red Cross doctor treating WWII soldiers after the war. When she is approached by a nun who begs her for help, Mathilde follows the desperate woman back to the convent. There, Mathilde finds several nuns pregnant, as a result of an attack by Soviet soldiers. As she enters the sisters’ fiercely private world, secrets rise to the surface, and modernism and science clash with faith and tradition. Ida‘s Agata Kulesza and Joanna Kulig also feature.
Paris-based FilmsDistribution has world sales on the film from the prolific Fontaine who was previously in Sundance in 2013 with Adore (aka Two Mothers). Her other credits include Oscar and BAFTA-nominated Coco Before Chanel along with How I Killed My Father, Entre Ses Mains and 2014’s Gemma Bovery.
Fontaine says the subject matter of Agnus Dei “resonates today because there persists (these types of) situations in countries that are at war.” But, she allows, “I found the subject to be as profound about war violence as it is about hope… These are characters in extreme situations who have great courage and are examples of optimism; women who rise above extreme violence and find a way when everything seems impossible.”
Also starring are Agata Buzek, Vincent Macaigne, Katarzyna Dabrowska, Pascal Elso, and Anna Prochniak. Producers are Eric and Nicolas Altmayer of Mandarin Cinéma and Cine@’s Philippe Carcassonne. Mars Distribution is releasing in France on February 10.