France’s Pathé Films and SBS Productions have revealed a first image of Virginie Efira in the starring role of a controversial 17th Century Italian nun in Paul Verhoeven’s upcoming feature Benedetta.
The film, which was originally announced in 2017 with the title of Blessed Virgin, explores the rise and fall of the colourful figure of Benedetta Carlini, an abbess in 17th Century Tuscany.
Carlini rose through the ecclesiastical ranks on the back of her claims that she was seeing visions and had also developed the stigmata – wounds corresponding to those of Jesus Christ when he was crucified – on her body.
She later fell from the grace after a Vatican investigation discredited her claims as a sham. It was later suggested her gender and sexuality were the real reasons for her being ostracised by the Catholic Church.
The feature is an adaption of Judith C. Brown’s academic work Immodest Acts: The Life Of A Lesbian Nun In Renaissance Italy. It is currently shooting in Italy over the summer. Other cast members include Charlotte Rampling, Daphné Patakia, Lambert Wilson, Olivier Rabourdin and Louise Chevillotte.
Pathé Films, which is producing the film alongside Saïd Ben Saïd at Paris-based SBS Productions, will release the film in France in 2019. Pathé International is handling world sales.