View your saved tickets

DCA Archive

By the Grace of God

François Ozon

François Ozon’s latest film may be his most surprising to date. Absent the mercurial director’s usual stylistic flourishes, By The Grace of God is an ambitious, sober true story of child sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church and the winner of the 2019 Berlinale Jury Grand Prix.

"A French chapter in what has become an international reckoning."

A Lyon family man, Alexandre’s (Melvil Poupaud) professional exterior masks a traumatic secret: that as a young boy he was abused by priest Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley). Unable to stay silent, in 2014 Alexandre takes his case to Cardinal Barbarin (François Marthouret), who professes ignorance over Preynat’s crimes – but as the inquiry elicits a chain of similar testimonies from other men, the Cardinal’s position becomes harder to sustain. Conceived by Ozon as a film ‘in the spirit of Spotlight’, Tom McCarthy’s Oscar winner about the Boston Globe’s revelatory investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, it is similarly conscientious and well-researched, following the perspective of several semi-fictionalised men as they speak up about their long-repressed experiences and seek justice.

By now a familiar story – the uncovering of long-repressed traumas, the predatory targeting of victims, the repeated cover-ups by Catholic officials – it is nevertheless still an incredibly important one; a French chapter in what has become an international reckoning.

To celebrate European Arthouse Cinema Day (Sun 13 October, 15:15) we are delighted to bring you a special sneak preview of By the Grace of God from the BFI London Film Festival, with thanks to Curzon.