Berlin: Francois Ozon Says His Catholic Abuse Drama "Won’t Impact" Real-Life Trial

Courtesy of Berlinale
'By the Grace of God'

'By the Grace of God' is having its world premiere in Berlin on Friday.

Francois Ozon says By The Grace of God, his new drama based on the real-life case of sexual abuses on children allegedly committed by French Catholic priest Bernard Preynat in the 1980s, won’t impact the criminal trial of the accused, due to start later this year.

"Everything in the film has already appeared in the French press," he told reporters at the Berlinale press conference for the film on Friday, just hours before the film has its world premiere. "I think the French legal system is strong enough to withstand the impact of a film."

Ozon, making his fifth appearance in the Berlinale in competition, acknowledged that there had been “pressure” to block the theatrical release of the film. “But most people attacking us haven’t seen the film, so they’re basically attacking us on principle,” he said.

Ozon shot the exteriors for By the Grace of God in Lyon, where the alleged abuses took place, but filmed everything else in Belgium and Luxembourg. “We didn’t even try in Lyon, which we know is extremely Catholic," he said. "We wanted to be free and not feel censored."

Funding also proved difficult, with the producers unable to turn to the usual financial suspects. “It wasn’t entirely easy to finance the film given the topic,” said producer Eric Altmayer. “There were a lot of people we would have normally contacted in the Lyon region. Canal + didn’t provide funding because of the topic.”