Pathé International has confirmed that Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, starring Virginie Efira as a controversial 17th century nun, has been selected in Competition for this year’s Cannes Film Festival (July 6-17).
The company, which is handling world sales on the feature, released a poster and trailer for the film on Wednesday (May 5). Its parent company Pathé Films is producing the feature alongside Saïd Ben Saïd at Paris-based SBS Productions and will release the film in France.
It joins Leos Carax’s Annette, which has been announced as the opening film, as an early confirmed title.
The Cannes Film Festival is due to unveil the full Official Selection for its 74th edition on May 27.
It is unusual for a producer or sales agent to confirm one of their productions in Official Selection ahead of the announcement press conference but delegate general Thierry Frémaux has already suggested that Benedetta would play in Cannes this year so the film’s inclusion was as good as confirmed.
Benedetta, which co-stars Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia and Lambert Wilson, was first announced in April 2017 under the title of Blessed Virgin. It is adapted from Judith C. Brown’s academic work Immodest Acts: The Life Of A Lesbian Nun In Renaissance Italy.
It shot in Italy over the summer of 2018, with Pathé and SBS teasing a first image in August 2018.
It was expected to play at the 2019 edition of Cannes but post-production on the film was delayed after Verhoeven underwent emergency hip surgery over the summer of 2019 and took the rest of the year off to recuperate.
The film was then tipped to premiere Official Selection in Cannes 2020 until its physical edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Verhoeven and his producers opted to hold the film back a year rather than feature in last year’s 2020 label.
Verhoeven was last in Cannes in 2016 with his racy comeback thriller Elle starring Isabelle Huppert while his cult film Basic Instinct opened the festival in 1992.
Pathé’s announcement comes amid growing optimism that the Cannes Film Festival will be able to physically take place this July after last year’s cancellation.