Paul Verhoeven Directing Lesbian Nun Drama With 'Elle' Star

Photographed by Joe Pugliese
Paul Verhoeven

'Blessed Virgin' will chronicle the life of controversial Italian nun Benedetta Carlini, with Virginie Efira set to star.

Hot on the heels of his acclaimed Elle, Paul Verhoeven has lined up another French-language film that will again tackle themes of sex, sexuality and religion.

Production has now begun on Blessed Virgin (Sainte Vierge), based on Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith C. Brown, with Elle star Virginie Efira in the lead role as Benedetta Carlini, a real-life 17th century nun.

Gerard Soeteman — a regular collaborator of Verhoeven's dating back to 1971's Business is Business — has adapted the work. Verhoeven's producer on Elle, Said Ben Said, announced the news via Twitter. 

Born in 1591, Carlini is a significant figure for historians of women's spirituality and lesbianism. At 30 she was made abbess of a convent in Pescia where she claimed she was experiencing visions of being murdered. It was later found that she had engaged in sexual relations with a fellow nun, whom she was accused of molesting. 

SBS Distribution will launch sales of Blessed Virgin in Cannes. 

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