The Brand New Testament
|The Brand New Testament|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jaco Van Dormael|
|Produced by||Jaco Van Dormael|
Frank Van Passel
|Written by||Jaco Van Dormael|
|Music by||An Pierlé|
|Edited by||Hervé de Luze|
Terra Incognita Films
|Distributed by||Le Pacte|
|Box office||$15.7 million|
The Brand New Testament (French: Le Tout Nouveau Testament) is a 2015 fantasy dark comedy film written, produced, and directed by Jaco Van Dormael. It is a co-production among Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The film was screened at the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was selected as the Belgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, making the December shortlist of nine films, but was not nominated. The Brand New Testament received ten nominations at the 6th Magritte Awards, winning four awards, including Best Film and Best Director for Van Dormael. The film has become a cult movie. 
God lives in an apartment in Brussels which he shares with his meek wife and his 10-year-old daughter Ea, to whom he is emotionally and physically abusive. God is a grumpy sadist who created humankind specifically to have something to torment. He manipulates reality via a personal computer which he forbids his family from accessing. One day, Ea sneaks into his office and discovers how He has been mistreating humans. This enrages God who then whips Ea with his belt. Ea decides to rebel against her father. She steals the key to His office and accesses the scheduled dates of death of every human in the world and releases the information to them via their portable telephones. Everyone with a cell phone receives a text message informing them exactly when they will die. Ea then locks God's computer and escapes the apartment through a washing machine which provides a tunnel to the outside world. Wandering the streets of Brussels, Ea decides to follow in the footsteps of her brother Jesus and write a Brand New Testament as her contribution to the human race. She selects six apostles to narrate their life stories. She first enlists a homeless man, Victor, to be her scribe, since she cannot write well.
The first apostle is a reclusive woman who lost her left arm in an accident and feels nobody will love her. The second is a man who hates his work and his life, who has decided to never move from a bench in the park now that he knows the date of his death. Ea translates to allow him to converse with a bird. This induces him to follow a flock of birds to the North Pole. The third apostle is a sexually frustrated man who is awkward with women and remains lovesick for a German girl he met once as a boy. With Ea's encouragement, he becomes a voice actor for porn movies, where he encounters and establishes a relationship with his lifelong fixation. The fourth apostle is a man who is fascinated with death and killing. He purchases a rifle and shoots people knowing that, since all death dates are already predetermined, they can not be his responsibility. Ea prods him to shoot a woman, the first apostle. He hits her in her prosthetic arm. Believing this to be a divine signal, he courts the woman and they establish a relationship, and he learns to embrace life instead of death. The fifth apostle is an elderly woman trapped in a loveless marriage, especially now that her husband knows he will outlive her by many years. Ea persuades her to cheat on her husband. She has sex with a young male prostitute, and then forms a love relationship with a gorilla. The gorilla scares her husband away, to her delight. The sixth apostle is a sickly boy who, when he discovered he had only days left to live, decided to live them as a girl. Ea encourages him to live each day as the equivalent of one month.
God is horrified when he discovers what Ea has done and that he can no longer torment humans. Locked out of his computer, He is powerless. He leaves the apartment using the chute in the laundry room, and in the real world He suffers all the mistreatment and frustrations He created for mankind. He is assaulted by everyone He meets. He discovers to his horror that the tunnel to his apartment has disappeared and He is trapped on Earth powerless and alone. He takes shelter in a church, where his outrageous criticism of his son Jesus Christ provokes a charitable priest into beating him senseless and eventually deporting him to Uzbekistan with a group of illegal immigrants.
Ea and her apostles go to the seaside where hundreds of people have gathered to spend the last hours of their lives. An airplane, which happens to be carrying God under police escort, falls out of the sky and threatens to crash onto the beach and kill everyone. At the last moment, however, God's wife realizes that the number of apostles has grown to 18, her favorite number, explores her husband's work space, unwittingly restarts his computer, and begins to configure a new life for mankind. She deletes the messages that notified people of their death date. The airplane regains altitude and a new creation is born under a flower-filled sky. Victor publishes the Brand New Testament which becomes a bestseller and catapults him out of hopeless poverty into a whole new life of fame and fortune. God reaches Uzbekistan where he works on an assembly line manufacturing washing machines. He keeps on searching without success for the washing machine with the escape hatch that will take him back to his apartment.
- Benoît Poelvoorde as God
- Catherine Deneuve as Martine
- François Damiens as François
- Yolande Moreau as God's wife
- Pili Groyne as God's daughter, Ea
- Laura Verlinden as Aurélie
- Serge Larivière as Marc
- David Murgia as Jesus Christ
- Johan Leysen as Martine's husband
- Pascal Duquenne as Georges
- Viviane De Muynck as Georges' mother
- Johan Heldenbergh as the priest
The Brand New Testament received generally favorable reviews from film critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 82%, based on 74 reviews with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern — and refreshingly original — lens." At Metacritic, the film received an average score of 70 out of 100, based on 17 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Austin Film Critics Association||Best Foreign Language Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Belgian Film Critics Association||Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Biografilm Festival||Europa Audience Award||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Guerrilla Award for Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Cannes Film Festival||Art Cinema Award||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Europa Cinemas Label Award||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|SACD Prize||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|César Awards||Best Foreign Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|David di Donatello||Best European Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|European Film Awards||Best European Comedy||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Best Production Designer||Sylvie Olivé||Won|
|European Film Awards||People's Choice Award for Best European Film||The Brand New Testament||Pending|
|European Film Festival Palić||Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Fantastic Fest||Best Comedy||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Filmfest Hamburg||Art Cinema Award||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Francophone Film Awards||Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig||Won|
|Best Actor||Benoît Poelvoorde||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Yolande Moreau||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Gopo Awards||Best European Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Haifa International Film Festival||Best International Film||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Carmel Award||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Lumières Awards||Best French-Language Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Luxembourg Film Awards||Best Film in Coproduction||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Best Technical Achievement||Marco Lorenzini||Nominated|
|Magritte Awards||Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Best Director||Jaco Van Dormael||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||Yolande Moreau||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||David Murgia||Nominated|
|Most Promising Actress||Pili Groyne||Nominated|
|Most Promising Actor||Romain Gelin||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Christophe Beaucarne||Nominated|
|Best Sound||François Dumont, Michel Schillings and Dominique Warnier||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||An Pierlé||Won|
|Méliès d'Or||Best European Fantastic Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Norwegian International Film Festival||Audience Award||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Special Jury Prize||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival||Best Narrative Feature||The Brand New Testament||Runner-up|
|Satellite Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Sergio Amidei Award||Best Screenplay||Jaco Van Dormael and Thomas Gunzig||Nominated|
|Sitges Film Festival||Best Film||The Brand New Testament||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Pili Groyne||Won|
|Best European Fantastic Film||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Tallgrass Film Festival||Outstanding Narrative Feature||The Brand New Testament||Won|
|Trailers FilmFest||Best European Trailer||The Brand New Testament||Won|
- List of submissions to the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Belgian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
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