Benedetta, the highly-anticipated lesbian nun movie from Paul Verhoeven, finally has a U.S. release date. The movie is already playing overseas, and will come to our shores this December. Which means that if you want to, you can gather the entire family and head to the theater on Christmas Day to watch the director of RoboCop and Showgirls tell the story of sapphic nuns in the 17th century.
Deadline broke the news that the Benedetta release date is set for December 3, 2021 here in the United States. IFC Films will release Verhoeven’s latest both theatrically and on VOD – so if you don’t want to venture out to a theater you can watch it from the safety of your own home. Theatrically, the movie will play in New York at the IFC Center and Film Lincoln Center and in LA at the Royal and the Alamo Drafthouse.
In Benedetta, “A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.” The cast includes Virginie Efira, Lambert Wilson, Daphne Patakia, Olivier Rabourdin, Clotilde Courau, Charlotte Rampling, and Hervé Pierre. Verhoeven co-wrote the script with David Birke, based on the non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown.
“Everyone liked to work on it, everybody came to the set with pleasure, and there were no problems, everybody was stepping forward to make it better,” Verhoeven told IndieWire. “The fun was not laughing, it was everyone felt so motivated to come to the director or assistant director— ‘we have another solution here’ — everything is really open and democratic. Everyone came in with ideas. I had fun. It was not laughing, it was the pleasure of doing something like that. Sometimes the story was funny, yeah.”
The True Story
Verhoeven’s movie takes liberties with the true story, but if you’re curious about that, you might want to pick up the aforementioned Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown. Here’s the synopsis:
The discovery of the fascinating and richly documented story of Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God, by Judith C. Brown was an event of major historical importance. Not only is the story revealed in Immodest Acts that of the rise and fall of a powerful woman in a church community and a record of the life of a religious visionary, it is also the earliest documentation of lesbianism in modern Western history. Born of well-to-do parents, Benedetta Carlini entered the convent at the age of nine. At twenty-three, she began to have visions of both a religious and erotic nature. Benedetta was elected abbess due largely to these visions, but later aroused suspicions by claiming to have had supernatural
contacts with Christ. During the course of an investigation, church authorities not only found that she had faked her visions and stigmata, but uncovered evidence of a lesbian affair with another nun, Bartolomeo. The story of the relationship between the two nuns and of Benedetta’s fall from an abbess to an outcast is revealed in surprisingly candid archival documents and retold here with a fine sense of drama.
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