Les innocentes

The Innocents | Agnus Dei – Die Unschuldigen
This is cinematographer Caroline Champetier’s third collaboration with Anne Fontaine and her first film using digital recording technology. As in Des hommes et des dieux (director: Xavier Beauvois), here Champetier is devoting herself to capturing the monastic-spiritual domain. The fictional plot is based on real events from the final phase of the Second World War. Both German and Soviet soldiers have committed murders and rapes in a Polish convent. A young sister in the Red Cross, Mathilde Beaulieu, helps the Benedictine nuns to give birth to the children that have resulted – even though this means violating religious prohibitions. She questions the nuns’ obedience and seeks instead to give life meaning again in tumultuous times. Filmed in an abandoned old baroque church and partly using existing sets, as well as ones built for the film, Les innocentes is a nocturnal work that radiates from within the darkness. In the bluish-grey of the half-shadows, candles and oil lamps but also faces come all the more into their own. The many long shots exert a pull and make it possible to comprehend the struggle between doubt and faith. The camera brings out all the expressiveness of the protagonists’ looks and skin because this, Champetier is saying, is where the sisters reveal their unveiled selves.
by Anne Fontaine
with Lou de Laâge, Agata Buzek, Agata Kulesza, Vincent Macaigne, Joanna Kulig, Eliza Rycembel, Anna Prochniak, Katarzyna Dabrowska, Helena Sujecka, Dorota Kuduk
France / Poland 2016 French, Polish, Russian 115’ Colour


  • Lou de Laâge (Mathilde)
  • Agata Buzek (Sister Maria)
  • Agata Kulesza (Mother Abbess)
  • Vincent Macaigne (Samuel)
  • Joanna Kulig (Irena)
  • Eliza Rycembel (Teresa)
  • Anna Prochniak (Zofia)
  • Katarzyna Dabrowska (Anna)
  • Helena Sujecka (Ludwika)
  • Dorota Kuduk (Wanda)


Director Anne Fontaine
Written by Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial
Cinematography Caroline Champetier
Editing Annette Dutertre
Music Grégoire Hetzel
Sound Olivier Mauvezin, Francis Wargnier, Jean-Pierre Laforce
Producers Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
Co-Producers Eliza Oczkowska, Klaudia Smieja
Associate Producers Isabelle Grellat Doublet, Philippe Carcassonne
Co-Production Aeroplan Film Warschau

Produced by

Mandarin Production

Anne Fontaine

Born in Luxembourg in 1959, this French filmmaker began her career as a dancer and actor before working as a screenwriter and director. She made her directing debut in 1993 with Les histoires d’amour finissent mal en général, which won the Jean Vigo Award. Her films also include Nathalie, Coco avant Chanel, Gemma Bovery as well as Les innocentes, which premiered at Sundance and won several awards.


1993 Les histoires d'amour finissent mal en général (Love Affairs Usually End Badly) · Les histoires d’amour finissent mal en général (Love Affairs Usually End Badly) 1995 Augustin · Augustin 1997 Nettoyage à sec (Dry Cleaning) · Nettoyage à sec (Dry Cleaning) 1999 Augustin, roi du Kung Fu (Augustin, King of Kung-Fu) · Augustin, roi du Kung Fu (Augustin, King of Kung-Fu) 2001 Comment j’ai tué mon père (How I Killed My Father) · Comment j'ai tué mon père (How I Killed My Father) 2003 Nathalie · Nathalie 2005 Entre ses mains (In His Hands) · Entre ses mains (In His Hands) 2006 Nouvelle chance (Oh La La!) · Nouvelle chance (Oh La La) 2008 La fille de Monaco (The Girl From Monaco) · La fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco) 2009 Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) · Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) 2011 Mon pire cauchemar (My Worst Nightmare) · Mon pire cauchemar (My Worst Nightmare) 2013 Perfect Mothers (Adoration) · Perfect Mothers (Adoration) 2014 Gemma Bovery · Gemma Bovery 2016 Les innocentes (The Innocents) · Les innocentes (The Innocents) 2017 Marvin · Marvin 2019 Blanche comme neige (Pure As Snow) · Blanche comme neige (Pure as Snow) · Police (Night Shift) · Police (Night Shift) 2021 Presidents

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023