The Child

A Criança

A film by Marguerite de Hillerin, Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois

Starring Grégory Gadebois, Loïc Corbery, João Arrais, Maria João Pinho

In the middle of the 16th century Lisbon was a cosmopolitan city, powerful as a consequence of the expansion, a power that began to collapse whilst the rigidity of an increasingly overbearing Inquisition was installed.

This is the story of Bela (João Arrais), a young man that was adopted by a wealthy couple of French-Portuguese merchants. The story takes place near Lisbon where Bela crosses paths with Rosa (Inês Pires Tavares), the love of his life;  it is also where he meets Jacques (Loïc Corbery), a friend of his adopted parents, with whom he lives an eventful friendship. Meanwhile Bela tries to find his place, but a succession of uncontrollable events (caused by misunderstandings, ambiguities, jealousy…) lead to disaster.

Release date


João Arrais - Bela

Grégory Gadebois - Pierre
Maria João Pinho - Maria
Loïc Corbery de la Comédie-Française - Jacques
Inês Pires Tavares
Alba Baptista - Branca
Ulysse Dutilloy-Liégeois
Cleonise Malulo
Raimundo Cosme
Olivier Dutilloy
João Vicente

with the special guest appearance of

Albano Jerónimo


Screenplay and direction

Marguerite de Hillerin and Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois
Freely adapted from Der Findling by Heinrich von Kleist

Image Mário Barroso
Art direction Zé Branco
Costumes Lucha D'Orey
Sound Francisco Veloso
Editor Paulo Milhomens
Sound editor Pedro Góis, Elsa Ferreira
Assistant director Raquel Teixeira
Production manager Catarina Alves
Produced by Paulo Branco

An Alfama Films Production 

and Leopardo Filmes co-production

With the participation of
Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual
Ministério da Cultura
Rádio e Televisão de Portugal

Marguerite de Hillerin

Marguerite de Hillerin appeared in Le Sommeil de la terre (Slumber of the earth) by Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois. From then on, both of them never stopped comparing their ideas, imagining new stories and new ways of telling them. They both wrote and directed Au Mont (At the Mount) and Les Ruines en été (Ruins in summer), whose themes such as the disappearance, loss and replacement match those of L’Enfant (The Child).

Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois

During the spring of 2018, Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois wrote and directed with Marguerite de Hillerin Au Mont (At the Mount). In August 2019, they directed a medium-length film, Les Ruines en été (Ruins in summer) which chronicles the return of a brother to a family bereaved by the son's death. This film allows the duo to discuss certain fundamental themes of L’Enfant (The Child).

  • Rotterdam International Film Festival 2022

    Official Selection - Tiger Competition

  • Cinespaña Festival 2022

    Panorama Portugal

  • São Paulo International Film Festival 2022

    New Filmmakers Competition

  • ShorTS International Film Festival 2022

    Nuove Impronte

Marguerite de Hillerin, Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois

Directors' Statement

When Paulo Branco and his son Juan asked us to write or adapt a story, one of us thought of “The Foundling”, Kleist's concise short story. Our passion for the text was mutual: in the writings of the German author, we found rich material and echoes of cinema.

Our rewriting effort led us to the creation of a family fresco that unfolds over six days in Portugal, in 1554. The central character is Bela, a boy from a poor neighbourhood in Lisbon, adopted by a wealthy Franco-Portuguese couple to replace a child lost in the colonies.

Portugal in the mid-16th century is both at the height of its power and on the verge of decline. Lisbon is a place where wealth from all over the world concentrates. But the great expansion stagnated. The Inquisition became an institution and hence a political force that constrained the life of the kingdom’s subjects. It became a tool for imposing morality, extending its power beyond religious concerns to determine what constituted good and bad conducts. Individual freedoms dwindled, shaping an increasingly narrow world.

We love stories, we love wandering souls, troubled hearts, we love stormy skies, we love the songs of lost birds in the night, we love the eternity of a beach near the sea, the sweetness of an afternoon in the tall grass, we love bumpy paths; we love Branca who will betray Rosa for love, Rosa who will sacrifice Bela for her freedom, Maria who loves a ghost madly, Pierre who writes poems and recites them in the shelter of the world, Afonso who has lived several lives, Jacques who lives his in a dream and detached from the current reality, and finally Bela, our boy of light who will fall.

Marguerite de Hillerin and Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois

News about The Child

Paulo Branco: "French cinema has become a self-destructive monster"

In an interview for AFP, Paulo Branco believes that even if French cinema benefits from one of the most efficient financing methods in the world, it is now threatened by a lack of ambition. 

Traces and The Child honored at the 2022 São Paulo Film Festival

The film by Tiago Guedes and the one by Marguerite de Hillerin and Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois were presented at the 46th edition of the São Paulo International Film Festival

The Child in the spotlight at Cinespaña 2022

The Child will be screened at Panorama Portugal during the 27th edition of the Toulouse festival

Press review

The young writer-director duo impresses by its refusal to hysterise situations or monumentalise history - never does L'Enfant highlight the pressure of the Inquisition, even if it catches up with the small community that felt so far away from it; never doe

Cahiers du cinéma

The meticulous and sensual staging makes the words of the tragedy heard, focuses on the bodies in the turmoil of history and reveals the trouble of their forbidden desires.


The youthful spirit of The Child owes nothing to any generational markers, but everything to the naked powers of cinema: a rural location bathed in light, a handful of actors, a well-crafted text and the spell is on.

Le Monde

Beautifully framed, The Child is a film of ghosts and fantasies that do not fit together.

Les Inrocks

This is a fine challenge for this film, which takes Henrich von Kleist's short story, The Foundling, and turns it into a poetic meditation on the story rather than a simple adaptation.


Thanks to a very carefully written style, the two directors create a banter, in the pure tradition of the courtly novel, where refinement is subtly mixed with the cruelty of feelings.


Matériel à télécharger

Subscribe to our mailing list