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ROME – The Vatican has given the thumbs up to the first Pope Francis biopic set to hit Italian movie screens.

Italian director Daniele Luchetti’s “Call Me Francesco,” depicting Jorge Maria Bergoglio’s path from Jesuit priest to groundbreaking pontiff, will world preem in Vatican City on December 1 prior to its wide release on 700 Italian screens on December 3. Though it is not known whether the Pope himself will attend, it’s clear that the pic has his pontifical seal of approval.

The world preem will take place in the Paul VI audience hall where papal audiences are held.

Young Argentinian thesp Rodrigo De la Serna, who played alongside Gael Garcia Bernal in Walter Salles’s “The Motorcycle Diaries,” stars in the title role as the former Buenos Aires bishop, a son of Italian immigrants. Chilean thesp Sergio Hernandez (“Gloria”) plays the future pontiff in his later years.

The film is produced by Piero Valsecchi’s TaoDue shingle with financing from Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset/Medusa. Medusa is distributing in Italy. TaoDue is handling international sales.

Luchetti, a respected Italo helmer whose drama “Our Life” screened in the Cannes competish in 2010, shot the film over 15 weeks in Argentina, Germany and Italy on a reported $12 million budget. He has described the film as being about “the human and spiritual adventure” of the pope’s “vocation” from his formative years with the Jesuits through the very tough experience of dictatorship and his pastoral mission amid the poor in Buenos Aires, prior to his pontifical election.

“Francesco” is based on the bestselling book “Francisco. El Papa de la gente” by Evangelina Himitian, a journalist with Buenos Aires newspaper La Nacion. The book’s title translates in English as “The Pope of The People.”