Wrapping “Agnus Dei” by Anne Fontaine

5 March 2015

In Warmia, Northeast Poland, the shooting of a French and Polish co-production directed by Anne Fontaine is drawing to an end. The crew of “Agnus Dei” have spent seven weeks on the set in Poland.

The protagonist of “Agnus Dei” set in 1945 is Mathilde Beaulieu, who is working as a young intern with the Polish branch of the French Red Cross. Their aim is to find, treat and repatriate French survivors of the German camps. One day a Polish nun comes to the hospital. In very poor French she begs Mathilde to visit the convent located near the hospital.  Mathilde's life and beliefs change when she discovers the advanced pregnancies of several of the sisters.

Lou de Laâge ("Breath", "Jappeloup"), an actress twice nominated for Cesar for Most Promising Actress (2014 & 2015), was cast as Mathilde. She is accompanied by a pleiad of Polish actresses with Agata Kulesza („Ida”) as the abbess, and Agata Buzek („Reverse”), Joanna Kulig („Elles”), Katarzyna Dąbrowska, Eliza Rycembel, Klara Bielawka, Helena Sujecka, Anna Próchniak and Dorota Kuduk playing the sisters. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages appeared on the set as extras.

The film script is based on a true story; it was written by Sabrina B. Karine, Alice Vial, Anne Fontaine and Pascal Bonitzer. Two Frenchwomen worked behind the camera: director Anne Fontaine ("Coco Before Chanel", "Adore") and cinematographer Caroline Champetier (“Holy Motors,” “Of Gods and Men”). The leading producer is Mandarin Cinema belonging to Eric and Nicolas Altmayer; they are supported by Philippe Carcassonne. The Polish co-producers are Eliza Oczkowska and Klaudia Śmieja from Aeroplan Film.

The filming has begun in mid-January in Orneta, Northeast Poland. St. Mary Sanctuary in the nearby Krosno has been adapted for the needs of the film. After meticulous set design works, the building of the old train station in Orneta has portrayed the hospital of the French Red Cross from 70 years before. The set designer is Joanna Macha and Katarzyna Lewińska is the costumes designer.

'We are happy not only because Poland won with other countries, but also because Polish filmmakers take a substantial part in the production: more than 50 members of the 60-people-strong crew are Polish,' says Tomasz Dąbrowski, head of Film Commission Poland, which supports the production.

'We are very pleased with the co-operation with the Polish crew who exhibited high level of professionalism,' sums up Eric Altmayer, producer of the film. 'We are also very impressed by the talent and skills of the Polish actresses.'

“Agnus Dei” is a co-production of Mandarin Cinema, Aeroplan Film (Poland), Mars Films, France 2 Cinema and Scope Pictures (Belgium) with the support of the Polish Film Institute and Film Commission Poland.  Film Distribution will handle the international sales.