Focus Features is jumping into documentaries in a big way. First they scooped up Morgan Neville’s Sundance breakout profile of Fred Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” for June release. Now they’re opening Wim Wenders’ latest documentary, “Pope Francis — A Man of His Word,” for May 18. (This date suggests a likely global debut at Cannes.)
Producer Alessandro Lo Monaco worked closely with the Vatican on Gianfranco Pannone’s documentary about the Vatican’s Swiss Guard. The Vatican approached him about co-producing a documentary about the outspoken Pope Francis, who seeks to communicate directly with the people. Lo Monaco turned to three-time Oscar nominee Wim Wenders (“Buena Vista Social Club,” “Pina,” and “Salt of the Earth”).
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When Lo Monaco brought “A Man of His Word” to Focus Features, chairman Peter Kujawski jumped on board. The documentary delves into the Pope’s relationship to his namesake, reformer and ecologist Saint Francis of Asissi, as well as what Pope Francis is doing in the world today.
Intended as a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biography, Wenders uses a direct-to-camera visual and narrative concept to engage the audience face-to-face with the pope, creating a dialogue between him and a cross-section of humanity as he responds to questions from farmers and workers, refugees, children and the elderly, prison inmates, and those who live in favelas and migrant camps.
The Pope addresses his audience directly, answering questions on life, death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family. The film also shows the pope on his trips around the world, showing footage of his speech at the United Nations, addressing the Congress of the United States, mourning with those gathered at Ground Zero and at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. He speaks to prisoners in correctional facilities and to refugees in Mediterranean camps. We see him travel to the Holy Land of Palestine and Israel as well as to Africa, South America and Asia.
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Universal Pictures International will …read more