“Les Innocentes” by Anne Fontaine, on a screenplay by Sabrina B. Karine and Alice Vial, broadcast this evening on Arte, is inspired by the true story of Madeleine Pauliac, doctor of the Red Cross, and its discovery in a Polish convent.
The plot of the Innocents takes place in Poland, in 1945. A young intern of the Red Cross (played by Lou de Lâage), responsible for treating the French survivors before their repatriation, is called to help by a Polish nun. She discovers that several of the sisters of this convent, who fell pregnant in dramatic circumstances, are about to give birth …
Behind the starting point of this film, there is a true story, until now little known, and brought to light by the scenario of Sabrina B. Karine and Alice Vial, according to an original idea of Philippe Maynial, nephew of Madeleine Pauliac from whom the film was inspired and whose name was changed for the film. While promoting the film, director Anne Fontaine, who also contributed to the adaptation and dialogues with Pascal Bonitzer, emphasizes the character “amazing and exhilarating“of this story, the pregnancies of these sisters concealing incredible facts.
“The fate of these sisters is hallucinating: according to the notes of Madeleine Pauliac, the doctor of the Red Cross whose film is inspired, 25 of them were raped in their convent – sometimes more than 40 times in a row – , 20 were killed, and 5 had to face pregnancies “, indicates Anne Fontaine. “This does not show the Soviet soldiers in a flattering aspect, but it is the historical truth; a truth that Poland does not spread but that a number of historians know. These soldiers did not feel that they were wrong. perform reprehensible acts “, she continues. “They were allowed to do so by their superiors as a reward for their efforts. The brutality they displayed is unfortunately still relevant. In countries at war, women continue to suffer it.“
Madeleine Pauliac kept a logbook when she was a doctor for the Red Cross and the script was able to draw on what she wrote at that time. Anne Fontaine specifies that she also did historical research with a Polish historian to “ensure the truth of the facts”.
The film also proposes to be interested in the personal itinerary of each Sister, and to know “how each one appropriated or not her motherhood, how Faith in Man and in science, Faith in a mission, therefore lay Faith could manage to communicate with a religious Faith“, as Anne Fontaine emphasizes at our microphone. And to add:”There are extremely universal, deep and totally overwhelming themes. So I said to myself that I couldn’t not do this topic. It immediately spoke to me and intrigued me personally: how can we get out of this situation, how to invent a voice that brings light and hope. I also felt that I was close to this subject and I made it my own. (…)
There was something very ardent about sharing this story. It’s an incredible story about the human condition and how we can re-invent, transcend such violence. In addition, there was a very strong contemporary mirror because this story is still relevant today in countries at war because rape is a weapon of war and that of nuns in particular.. “