Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

The Portuguese Nun 2009

A Religiosa Portuguesa

Directed by Eugène Green

A young French actress playing a nun has a profound encounter with a real Portuguese nun during the shooting in Lisbon. An eccentric study of religious doubt steeped in the beauty of Lisbon and the sadness of fado.

France / Portugal In Finnish and Portuguese with English subtitles
127 minutes

Director, Screenplay


Luis Urbano
Sandro Aguilar


Raphäel O’Byrne


Valérie Loiseleux

Production designer

Zé Branco

Costume designer

Margarida Morins


Leonor Baldaque (Julie de Hauranne)
Ana Moreira (Irmã Joana)
Adrien Michaux (Martin Dautand)
Beatriz Batarda (Magdalena)
Diogo Dória (D. Henrique Cunha Mello de Lencastre)
Carloto Cotta (D. Sebastião)
Francisco Mozos (Vasco)
Eugène Green (Denis Verde)


Locarno 2009; Rotterdam, San Francisco 2010


American-born French director Eugène Green follows his sublimely eccentric Le Pont des Arts (NZIFF05) with an equally intriguing and formally self-conscious study of another young artist in existential crisis. The new film is as transfixed as its heroine by Lisbon and the melancholy beauty of fado. — BG

“Strewn with long silences and even longer takes, this is a deadpan reverie on love and faith, film and life. Yet it’s also impishly poetic and singularly moving… In Lisbon to shoot De Guilleragues’ Letters of a Portuguese Nun, atheist actress Leonor Baldaque has an epiphany after encountering Sister Ana Moreira in a backstreet church. Some will bridle at Eugène Green’s highly stylised minimalism, the self-reflexive friskiness, the surfeit of literary and cinematic references and the extended fado interludes. But for all its idiosyncratic charm, this is a deceptively passionate and poignant picture.” — David Parkinson, The Guardian