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Awards for Belgian remake of ‘Singing Nun’

Soeur Sourire (remake of The Singing Nun) is a film, in French, by the Flemish director Stijn Coninx.

It is about the tragic life of a Belgian nun who became world famous with her massive hit number Dominique.

Cécile de France, the Walloon actress who is making waves in France, plays the leading role in the film. Soeur Sourire will be in the cinemas in Belgium from the beginning of May.

Valenciennes Film Festival had a Belgian emphasis this year with a wide selection of Belgian films on the programme.

The Singing Nun
: Jeanne Deckers

Jeanne Deckers (1933-1985) is famous all over the world as ‘The Singing Nun’ and for her massive hit Dominique, which reached number 1 and sold more than 1.5 million copies. She is the only Belgian ever to achieve a number one hit in the United States and temporarily topped hit-list artists like Stevie Wonder and even The Beatles in the charts.

She joined the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Belgium as Sister Luc-Gabrielle. She was popular in the convent for her music and recorded an album in 1963. One song, Dominique, soared to the top of the charts. Overnight, the Belgian nun was an international celebrity with the stage name of ‘Soeur Sourire’ (Sister Smile). In 1965, a movie called The Singing Nun, starring Debbie Reynolds.  The real ‘Soeur Sourire’ rejected the film as "fictional".

Around the same time, she stopped performing and became more involved in a rigorous religious life in the convent. In 1967 she left the convent and recorded her second album entitled I Am Not a Star.

Though she was deeply religious, Jeanne Deckers was also increasingly critical of the conservatism of the Roman Catholic Church and she became an advocate of birth control.

Later, she opened a school for autistic children in Belgium with a close friend, Annie Pescher. In the early 1980s the Belgian government reportedly began claiming that she owed huge amounts of back taxes (from her music career).  She claimed that the money was given to the convent and therefore exempt from taxes. In 1983, she tried to raise money by releasing an updated electronic version of Dominique but it failed to sell very well. Both she and her friend Annie Pescher ended up committing suicide on 30 March1985.