Nine monks go about the simple rhythms of their life, in the certain knowledge that they face an imminent death.
Hardly a movie pitch which would have predicted success but Xavier Beauvois’s Of Gods and Men was not only runner up at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; it ‘s now the French Oscar entry – as well as taking more than 8m euro at the French box office.
Part of its shocking appeal is that it’s based on a real story. In 1996, seven French Cistercian monks were kidnapped and then killed at Tibhirine in Algeria, amidst rising religious and factional violence. Their murderers were never found.
“When it happened, as a nation, France was shocked,” says the film’s producer Etienne Comar.
“Ten years later in 2006, the same questions resurfaced. Why did it happen? Why did they die? I decided, as a movie, that rather than portray their death, it was more interesting to show them living. There is no answer to their deaths.”