|Directed by||Paul Verhoeven|
|Produced by||Saïd Ben Saïd|
|Written by||David Birke|
|Based on||Immodest Acts - The life of a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy|
by Judith C. Brown
|Music by||Anne Dudley|
|Edited by||Job ter Burg|
Benedetta is an upcoming French and Dutch biographical drama film directed and co-written by Paul Verhoeven, starring Virginie Efira as Benedetta Carlini, a novice nun in the 17th century who joins an Italian convent and begins a love affair with another woman.
The film is based on the 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts - The life of a lesbian nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown. The film brings back most of the key crew members of Verhoeven's previous film Elle (which co-starred Efira), including producer Saïd Ben Saïd, writer David Birke, composer Anne Dudley and editor Job ter Burg.
Following the critical and commercial success of his previous film Elle (2016), director Paul Verhoeven developed several projects including one about Jesus based on his own book Jesus of Nazareth, another one about the second world war French Resistance, and a third one scripted by Jean-Claude Carrière about a medieval story set in a monastery. On 25 April 2017, producer Saïd Ben Saïd revealed that the third had been the one chosen as Verhoeven's next project. The film, then titled Blessed Virgin, marked the producer and the director's second collaboration after Elle. Gerard Soeteman, who has worked with Verhoeven on eight previous films including Turkish Delight (1973), The Fourth Man (1983) and Black Book (2006), replaced Carrière to adapt the non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy which was published in 1986 and written by historian Judith C. Brown. Soeteman ultimately distanced himself from the project and had his name removed from the credits as he felt too much of the story was focused on sexuality.
Belgian actress Virginie Efira, who played a supporting part as a devout Catholic in Elle, was cast in the leading role of Benedetta Carlini, a 17th-century nun who suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. On 25 March 2018, Saïd Ben Saïd announced that Verhoeven had co-written the final draft with David Birke, who previously wrote Elle. Judith C. Brown stated that "Paul Verhoeven and David Birke have written an imaginative and spellbinding script that explores the intersection of religion, sexuality, and human ambition in an age of plague and faith." Verhoeven then clarified his intentions :
|“||Blessed Virgin must be deeply infused with a sense of the sacred. I have been interested in the sacred ever since I was a child, both generally and more specifically in music, painting.||”|
On 3 April 2018, Lambert Wilson told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that he has a role in the film. On 1 May 2018, Deadline Hollywood revealed that Charlotte Rampling entered negotiations to play a key supporting role. On 4 May 2018, it was announced that the film was retitled to Benedetta. Although Verhoeven had hoped to convince Isabelle Huppert to play a supporting role in the film, producer Saïd Ben Saïd stated on 31 May 2018, that the actress was not joining the project. Ben Saïd also confirmed that Louise Chevillotte, Olivier Rabourdin, Clotilde Courau and Hervé Pierre had been cast in the film.
Principal photography began on 19 July 2018 in Montepulciano, Italy. Other locations included Val d'Orcia and Bevagna, also in Italy, as well as the Silvacane Abbey and Le Thoronet Abbey, in France.
On 16 February 2018, The Hollywood Reporter announced Pathé would be producing and distributing the film in France and would also be handling international sales. On 29 August 2018, Pathé and SBS Productions released a first look image of the film.
Although it was initially reported that the film would premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Pathé announced on 14 January 2019 that the release had been postponed until 2020, stating that post-production had been delayed as Verhoeven was recovering from hip surgery.
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- Ben Saïd, Saïd [@saidbensaid66] (25 March 2018). "Finally..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Ben Saïd, Saïd [@saidbensaid66] (25 March 2018). "« Paul Verhoeven and David Birke have written an imaginative and spellbinding script that explores the intersection of religion, sexuality, and human ambition in an age of plague and faith » JUDITH BROWN" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Ben Saïd, Saïd [@saidbensaid66] (6 April 2018). "« BLESSED VIRGIN must be deeply infused with a sense of the sacred. I have been interested in the sacred ever since I was a child, both generally and more specifically in music, painting » Paul Verhoeven" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Ben Saïd, Saïd [@saidbensaid66] (31 May 2018). "No, that's not correct. Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphné Patakia, Louise Chevillotte, Olivier Rabourdin, Lambert Wilson, Clotilde Courau, Hervé Pierre are the actors of the film" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Goodfellow, Melanie (14 January 2019). "Paul Verhoeven's nun drama 'Benedetta' delayed until 2020". Screen Daily.