View your saved tickets

DCA Archive

The Innocents (Agnus Dei)

Anne Fontaine

Veteran French filmmaker Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) takes on a devastating true story, long kept secret, about the trauma suffered by a cloister of Polish nuns in the aftermath of the Second World War and the very brave woman who risked everything to help them.

As the film opens, a young nun leaves her convent in the middle of winter to travel to the local village searching for medical assistance. Her insistence that the doctor cannot be Polish or Russian intrigues French Red Cross medic Mathilde (Lou De Laâge), who agrees to come with her. On arrival, she is shocked to learn that her patient is a nun about to go into labour. The Mother Superior (Ida’s Agata Kulesza) is wary of the stranger and reluctant to let her look after the mother and child. When Mathilde threatens to report the birth, the nuns have no choice but to let her in on the desperate truth that several of the nuns were raped by the occupying Soviet soldiers and that the birth she has just witnessed will not be the only one.

The Innocents carefully examines the range of reactions from all the women involved, trying to cope with what they have experienced as well as what is before them, their faith tested at every turn. Never black and white, it is a nuanced portrait which looks not only at the horrors women face in conflict but also the depth of courage which they need to survive.