IFC Films acquired the erotic thriller Benedetta, directed by Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven’s first directorial effort since his 2016 film Elle, Benedetta entangles sexuality, religion, and human ambition in its story of a young novitiate in 17th century Italy who begins an affair with another nun. IFC Films plans to release the film this year.
Written by Verhoeven and David Birke (Elle), the film is inspired by historian Judith C. Brown’s non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy. The film stars Virginie Efira alongside Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson, Olivier Rabourdin, Clotilde Courau, Hervé Pierre, and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).
In the late 17th century, with plague ravaging the land, Benedetta Carlini (Virginie Efira) joins the convent in Pescia, Tuscany, as a novice. Tormented by religious and erotic visions and capable from an early age of performing miracles, Benedetta’s impact on life in the community is immediate and momentous.
Originally slated to make its world premiere at the cancelled 2020 Cannes Film Festival, Benedetta will now arrive on the Croisette this July, where it will compete for the Palme d’Or. This will mark Verhoeven’s third Cannes bow, following Elle in 2016 and Basic Instinct, which opened the festival in 1992.