UPDATE: We initially reported that these two projects would be documentaries. It appears they will instead be narrative films. We apologize for the error.
The newspapers recently announced that not one, but two high-profile films will be released in the relatively near future which center on the increasingly prominent Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis, and his rather unorthodox rise.
German-born Catholic convert Christian Peschken is said to be co-writer and producer of one of the films, allegedly titled Friend of the Poor: The Pope Francis Story. A seasoned veteran in the film industries of both Germany and Hollywood (he was the Social Awareness Committee chairman of the PGA), Peschken seems not to be taking his producing responsibilities lightly, reportedly looking to recruit Spanish writer/director Antonio Cuadri (The Heart of the Earth), as well as three-time Oscar winning cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, Reds, The Last Emperor). Andrea Tornielli, renowned author of books on both Catholicism and the pope (Francis: Pope of a New World), as well as personal contact with Pope Francis, has also reportedly agreed to join the lineup, which has an estimated $25 million budget.
Historia de un Cura (History of a Priest) is the provisional title of the second film, which The Hollywood Reporter claims is currently in production. Alexandro Agresti (The Lake House) has written, and is directing the film, which is shooting in Italy, Germany and Argentina, the homeland of both Agresti and the pontiff. The film will star Rodrigo de la Serna, recognized best as Alberto Granado, “Che” Guevara’s right-hand-man in The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) as Jorge Bergoglio, (the man who was to become Pope Francis). Dialogue will be spoken in both Spanish and Italian.
Elected six months ago, following the virtually unprecedented resignation of predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’s unconventional background (he is the first Jesuit, and the first person from the southern hemisphere, to attain the title), as well as his liberal leanings and refreshingly humble personality, are sure to make a compelling narrative for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And while it is undeniable that religious biopics are proving to be an increasingly popular and thus marketable trend in the high budget filmmaking world (Noah, The Resurrection, The Vatican) Peschken and Agresti seem to be carrying out the same story with distinct approaches.
Whereas Agresti explained in an interview with Variety, “more than a rapid biopic of key events, I’m more concerned with getting inside this very singular person, his decision to follow his vocation, and how he combined his faith and reason, having studied as a Jesuit for 14 years before being ordained,” Peschken told the National Catholic Register that while his film is not “a Catholic movie per se, [I want to] portray [Pope Francis] as who he is: a person who constantly points to Jesus and the message of Jesus — of love, of responsibility to neighbor — a person who puts Jesus first and everything else second.”