Described in a statement as a “historic nonfiction film,” the Wenders work is not a biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio rather “a film with him.”
It marks the second co-production that the Vatican has made with outside filmmakers “and the first in which a Pope addresses the audience directly, discussing topics such as ecology, immigration, consumerism, and social justice,” the statement said.
The German auteur of “Wings of Desire” and many docs, including “Buena Vista Social Club,” and “Pina” has been working closely with the Vatican for at least two years.
In 2015 Wenders collaborated with the Vatican TV center during the Jubilee in Rome. More recently Wenders was spotted shooting in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, known to be an inspirational figure for Bergoglio and the reason the pontiff chose to call himself Pope Francis.
In “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word,” Pope Francis “responds to questions submitted from around the globe,” the statement said. The documentary will comprise exclusive footage from the Vatican TV archive showing the pope on his world travels, “sharing his ideas and ideals in different parts of the world,” it noted.
“Whenever I think of Wenders’ poetics I see before me the angels that feature in ‘Wings of Desire’ and ‘Faraway, So Close!’.,” said Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication of the Holy See, in the statement.
“They are angels that, though perfectly pertinent to both the biblical and literary worlds, have very little in common with the devotional stereotype,” Viganò, who is know to be a big film buff and the originator of this project, added.
That’s why the German auteur was invited to take part in the opening ceremony of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, called by Pope Francis himself, according to Viganò.
A meeting that led to the Vatican Television Centre suggesting a film could be made.
“Pope Francis is a living example of a man who stands for what he says,” said Wenders.
“In our film, he speaks directly to the viewer, very candidly and spontaneously. We wanted “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word,” to be for all audiences, as the Pope’s message is universal,” he added.
“Through the full cooperation of the Vatican, we were privileged to have several long audiences with Pope Francis, and Focus now joins us in bringing his radical compassion and deep humanism to an audience around the globe,” Wenders went on to note.
“The belief that movies can impact individuals and the world at large is at the very core of Focus Features,” said Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski.
“We are humbled at the responsibility of planting this film into the global culture so that the thoughts and words of a spiritual leader as inspiring and compassionate as Pope Francis can take root,” he added.
“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word,” is produced by Wenders with Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco (“The World’s Smallest Army”), Andrea Gambetta and David Rosier (“The Salt of the Earth“). The film is a production of Célestes Images, Centro Televisivo Vaticano, Solares Fondazione delle Arti, PTS Art’s Factory, Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse, and Decia Films.
Cinetic Media and Sloss Eckhouse LawCo negotiated the deal on behalf of the producers.