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Sections & Films


Category: Edition 2020

Rwanda, 1973. Young girls are sent to Our Lady of the Nile, a prestigious Catholic boarding school perched on a hill, where they are taught to become the Rwandan elite. With graduation on the horizon, they share the same dormitory, the same dreams and the same teenage concerns. But throughout the land as well as within the school, deep-seated antagonism is rumbling, about to change these young girls’s lives and the entire country – forever.

Original Title NOTRE-DAME DU NIL
Category Official Competition
Section Generator +16
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 93'
Production Year 2019
Nationality Belgium, France, Rwanda
Directed by Atiq Rahimi
Screenplay Atiq Rahimi, Ramata Sy
Director of photography Thierry Arbogast
Editor Hervé de Luze, Jacqueline Mariani
Production Design Françoise Joset
Costume Design Cédric Mizero
Sound Dana Farzaneh Pour, Ingrid Ralet, Etienne Curchod, Mathieu Cox
Main cast Amanda Santa Mugabekazi
Albina Sydney Kirenga
Malaika Uwamahoro
Clariella Bizimana
Belinda Rubango Simbi
Pascal Greggory
Produced by Rani Massalha, Dimitri Rassam, Charlotte Casiraghi, Marie Legrand

regista Atiq RahimiATIQ RAHIMI
Atiq Rahimi is a novelist and filmmaker. His first feature, EARTH AND ASHES, co-authored with Iranian filmmaker Kambuzia Partovi, was presented in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival where it was awarded the “Prix du Regard vers l’Avenir”. SYNGUÉ SABOUR: THE PATIENCE STONE, his first novel written directly in French, won the Prix Goncourt on November 10, 2008. In 2011, he adapted it into a screenplay with French author and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière. The movie, which he also directed, world-premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to enjoy widespread public acclaim when it was released on February 20, 2013. Notably, it showcased actress Golshifteh Farahani who received a César nomination for her performance. OUR LADY OF THE NILE is Atiq Rahimi’s third feature film.

Director's statement
"I found my place within the story after my first trip to Rwanda. As soon as I found, within its culture, something I’ve been obsessed with ever since I started writing books and making movies: the relationship between the sacred and violence. The ideas set forth in philosopher René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred have stayed with me since my college years. And that is exactly what OUR LADY OF THE NILE is about. The story unfolds in the 1970s, in a Catholic boarding school for girls who are seemingly carefree and yet find themselves thrust at the center of an irreversible mechanism of violence, all in the name of their origins. In the seventies, Rwanda, much like Afghanistan, is under absolute rule. It isn’t the people who decide, for better or for worse, their political system. It’s the elite, the technocrats and the leaders. The genocide against the Tutsi of 1994 didn’t arise all of a sudden or without premeditation. Its roots can be found in 1959, when the monarchy was overthrown by the Hutu clan. And then later, in 1973, when the manhunt on the elite and intellectual class began, in preparation for what would be known as the “popular Genocide”. OUR LADY OF THE NILE takes place during that preparatory phase".


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