×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Martin Scorsese Meets Pope Francis and Talks Jesuit History Prior to ‘Silence’ Screening

ROME – Martin Scorsese and Mexican producer Gaston Pavlovich met with Pope Francis on Wednesday prior to a Vatican screening of “Silence,” the veteran U.S. director’s new film about the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan.

The private papal audience, held in the Apostolic Palace, was announced by the Vatican press office Tuesday in a clear show of support for “Silence,” Scorsese’s passion project.

The film portrays two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries, played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, who must contend with various forms of persecution as they travel through 17th-century Japan to proselytize locals and track down their mentor, played by Liam Neeson. The film is based on a novel by the same title by Japanese author Shusaku Endo.

Francis, who is the first Jesuit pope, is known to have joined the Jesuit order hoping to become a missionary in Japan. American priest James Martin, who is editor of the Jesuit weekly “America,” served as a consultant on “Silence.”

The Vatican press office said Francis had received Scorsese, who was accompanied by his wife and two daughters, and described the 15-minute meeting as “very cordial.” The pope told the group that he had read Endo’s novel. He and Scorsese spoke about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in Japan.

Scorsese gave the pope framed images depicting “hidden Christians” in Japan, including a reproduction of an ancient image of the Virgin of Nagasaki and a portrait of the “martyrs of Japan.” The pope gave the guests some rosaries.

“Silence” will screen Wednesday afternoon in the roughly 50-seat Vatican Film Library’s screening room, located in the Palazzo San Carlo, in Vatican City. It is not known whether the pope will attend.

On Tuesday, “Silence” screened for roughly 300 Jesuit priests at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, in what amounted to the film’s de facto world premiere. Attendees were able to discuss the film with Scorsese afterwards.

“It was an extremely powerful experience, almost indescribable, to see a film about Jesuit missionaries among my brother Jesuits from all over the world,” Martin commented on Facebook.

It’s taken Scorsese 27-years to make “Silence,” which had a budget of $46.5 million. The film’s main financer is Pavlovich, a Mexican businessman and former government official who is now producing increasingly ambitious movies through his Fabrica de Cine company, which has offices in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

The film’s director and producer share a passion for both movies and religion. Scorsese is known to have considered the priesthood before pursuing film. Pavlovich attends annual Catholic retreats in Mexico and is a frequent guest speaker on Catholic campuses and church events.

While it’s not unusual for new faith-based films to screen in Vatican City for audiences largely made up of clergy, it’s rare for the Vatican to become the first place where an upcoming Hollywood release gets its first public screening.

The last Hollywood production to get a Vatican screening was the Angelina Jolie-directed war drama “Unbroken,” which has a strong spiritual component. It unspooled last year for Vatican prelates at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Sciences  following its theatrical release. Jolie met briefly with Pope Francis after the Vatican screening, which he did not attend.

Scorsese’s most spiritual film prior to “Silence” is “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which was based on a revisionist novel by Nikos Kazantzakis that gave prominence to Christ’s human dimension. That film sparked plenty of controversy and was deemed “morally offensive” by the U.S. Catholic Church in particular due to a dream sequence in which Jesus has sex with Mary Magdalene.

Paramount will release “Silence” in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 23, a plum awards-season slot, before rolling it out nationwide in January. The pic will go out in Italian theaters via 01 Distribuzione on Jan. 12.

More Film

  • UGC Distribution Closes on Mariano Cohn’s

    Ventana Sur: UGC Distribution Closes Market Hit ‘4 x 4’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — UGC Distribution has beaten out all other suitors to clinch what had became by Friday morning the most anticipated deal of this year’s Ventana Sur market: All rights to France on Argentine Mariano Cohn’s “4 x 4,” sold by Latido Films and distributed throughout Argentina by Disney. After mounting speculation about which [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Hits $152 Million at International Box Office

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” has already grossed more than $150 million outside the U.S., Michael Masini joins “Birds of Prey,” and Freestyle buys the documentary “Shamanic Trekker.” BOX OFFICE Warner Bros.’ tentpole “Aquaman” has taken in $152 million overseas in 36 markets, with $135 million of that from China, where it opened on [...]

  • 'Winter's Night' Review: Enigmatic, Offbeat Korean

    Tallinn Film Review: 'Winter's Night'

    There are thousands of films about love’s beginning, and a great many about love’s end. But far fewer deal with a relationship’s late-middle: the spreading, sluggish delta of coupledom when decades of familiarity, if they have not bred contempt, at least threaten irritation. “Winter’s Night,” Jang Woo-jin’s playfully melancholic third feature, after the acclaimed “A [...]

  • Tomasz Kot UTA

    UTA Signs ‘Cold War’ Star Tomasz Kot (EXCLUSIVE)

    UTA has signed “Cold War” star Tomasz Kot. He has appeared in more than 30 films and 26 plays as well as dozens of television series. Most recently, Kot has received award-season buzz for his starring role as Wiktor in Pawel Pawlikowski’s feature “Cold War” for Amazon. The project has earned him a nomination for [...]

  • Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening

    Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival

    The 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with historical drama “All Is True,” starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen. Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh [...]

  • Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies

    Actor and Activist Rodney Kageyama Dies at 77

    Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77. The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max [...]

  • Most Popular Films 2018: The Best

    9 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired by This Year's Most Popular Films

    From superheroes to super nannies, 2018 was a year full of memorable characters — and memorable movies. Whether you’re a big film buff, an avid follower of a popular franchise, or have a couple movie fans in your life, here are nine gifts that capture the fun of some of this year’s biggest films. 1. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content