ROME — The miracle of Our Lady of Fatima is set to get a new high-profile cinematic treatment.
In the latest of a growing crop of major faith-based films, several prominent U.S. indie players, including Origin Entertainment, Frida Torresblanco (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and Rose Ganguzza’s Rose Pictures (“Kill Your Darlings”), have teamed up on “Fatima,” to be directed by Italy’s Marco Pontecorvo and shot at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios.
“Fatima” will mark the most ambitious attempt to reconstruct the solemn supernatural events surrounding the supposed apparition of Mary to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, since Warner Bros.’ classic “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” in 1952.
On May 13, 2017, the Catholic Church will celebrate the 100th anniversary of what became known as “the miracle of the sun,” said to have been witnessed by thousands of people. Pope Francis has stated he will visit Portugal for the occasion.
The new “Fatima” film appears to be supported by the Vatican. Father Vitor Coutinho, who is Vice-Rector of the Shrine of Fatima, called it “a praiseworthy initiative that can become a great instrument to spread the word of Fatima,” in a statement.
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The screenplay is by U.S. scribe and author Barbara Nicolosi, founder of Act One, a Christian organization for training aspiring Christian scriptwriters and producers working in Hollywood.
Casting is still being decided.
Founded and headed by James T. Volk, Origin Entertainment specializes in faith-based pics, including upcoming authorized Mother Teresa biopic “Thirst” being co-produced with Flame Ventures. Frida Torresblanco, who ran Alfonso Cuaron’s Esperanto production outfit, more recently produced “The Maid” (“La Nana”) through her Braven Films shingle.
New York-based Rose Ganguzza is known in indie circles for shepherding works by first-time filmmakers, including Antonio Campos (“Afterschool”) and JC Chandor (“Margin Call”).
In an original marketing move tailored to the film’s core audience, the producers will be launching “Fatima” in Cannes with a mass to be held on May 13 in the town’s Notre Dame de Bon Voyage cathedral, which is very near the Palais des Festivals. The mass, followed by a cocktail party at the Italian Pavillion in the Majestic Hotel, will kick off a global year-long Pray for Peace campaign leading up to the 100th anniversary.
Marco Pontecorvo, who is the son of late-great Italian auteur Gillo Pontecorvo (“The Battle of Algiers”), has several features under his belt, including “Patch Adams”-like “Pa-Ra-Da,” which screened in Venice, and some TV skeins, most recently immigrant crisis-themed mini-series “Lampedusa” for Italo pubcaster Rai.
Pontecorvo was brought on board by the Agency for the Performance Arts’ Anthony Marotto who “forged numerous alliances that are crucial for the project,” Ganguzza said in the statement. In packaging the project Marotto, who is a rising star at APA, also brought in prominent Italian line producer Marco Valerio Pugini (“Zoolander 2”), who often works with Pontecorvo.
British executive producer Natasha Howes praised Pontecorvo as “having the right visual style and approach” for the story.
Investors from several countries are putting up the financing. The budget has not been disclosed. The plan is to start shooting this summer.
“We are very happy to be hosting ‘Fatima’ at Cinecittà,” enthused the studio’s topper Giuseppe Basso. He added that Cinecittà, which is known for its top notch craftsmen, will be creating great sets in its theaters and backlots for the pic.
Thanks to recently introduced Italian tax incentives, which are proving effective in luring back international productions, Cinecittà recently hosted the entire shoot of Paramount and MGM’s “Ben Hur” remake, another film targeting the faith-based crowd.