Notre-Dame du Nil

Our Lady of the Nile
“Where do our tears come from? Some say they are the sap of our suffering and our broken hearts. Others say our tears are the waters of innocence, to cleanse the land of a Thousand and One Hills.”

Rwanda, 1973: high up in the mountains, at the source of the Nile, a black statue of the Virgin Mary watches over a Catholic boarding school for girls. Here, during days filled with classes, mass and practical work, the daughters of politicians, officers and businessmen are educated to one day become productive members of the country’s elite. Whether Hutu or Tutsi, the girls share their curiosity, dreams and joie de vivre. However, the social dynamics and increasing conflicts that characterise the school microcosm mirror the ravages wrought by the colonial order. Deeply symbolic images hint at the genocidal violence that would later engulf the entire country in 1994.
by Atiq Rahimi
with Santa Amanda Mugabekazi, Albina Sydney Kirenga, Angel Uwamahoro, Clariella Bizimana, Belinda Rubango Simbi, Ange Elsie Ineza, Kelly Umuganwa Teta, Pascal Greggory, Carole Trévoux
France / Belgium / Rwanda 2019 French, Kinyarwanda 93’ Colour


  • Santa Amanda Mugabekazi (Virginia)
  • Albina Sydney Kirenga (Gloriosa)
  • Angel Uwamahoro (Immaculée)
  • Clariella Bizimana (Veronica)
  • Belinda Rubango Simbi (Modesta)
  • Ange Elsie Ineza (Frida)
  • Kelly Umuganwa Teta (Goretti)
  • Pascal Greggory (Fontenaille)
  • Carole Trévoux (Mother Superior)


Director Atiq Rahimi
Screenplay Atiq Rahimi based on the novel “Notre-Dame du Nil” by Scholastique Mukasonga, Ramata Toulaye-Sy
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Editing Hervé de Luze, Jacqueline Mariani
Sound Design Ingrid Ralet
Sound Dana Farzaneh Pour, Mathieu Cox
Production Design Françoise Joset
Producers Rani Massalha, Dimitri Rassam, Marie Legrand
Co-Producers Charlotte Casiraghi, Patrick Vandenbosch, Jérôme de Bethune, Fabrice Delville, Christophe Toulemonde
Co-Production France 2 Cinema Paris
Swoon Productions Paris
Belga Productions Braine-l’Alleud

Produced by

Les Films du Tambour

Chapter 2

Atiq Rahimi

The novelist and filmmaker’s debut film Earth and Ashes, which he co-wrote with the Iranian director Kambuzia Partovi, screened in the 2004 Un Certain Regard section at Cannes where it won the Prix du Regard vers l’Avenir. His debut novel, “Syngué Sabour: The Patience Stone” was published in 2008; in 2011 he adapted the book for the screen with Jean-Claude Carrière. The film, which he also directed, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Notre-Dame du Nil is his third feature film.


2004 Earth and Ashes 2012 The Patience Stone 2019 Notre-Dame du Nil

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020