Cannes film follows French monks killed in Algeria
The seven members of a Trappist order, who lived in a monastery in Tibehirine south of Algiers, disappeared in 1996 during a savage wave of killings by both Islamist militants and government forces. Only their severed heads were ever recovered and the exact circumstances in which they died are unclear.
Director Xavier Beauvois takes no side in the controversy over who to blame, focussing instead on the unhurried rhythms of life in the monastery and ending the film as they disappear with their captors up a snowy mountain path.
As the violence that pervades the country comes closer to their community, the monks are forced to choose whether to stay or leave and Beauvois shows clearly the fears and doubts they experience as they wrestle with their choice.