Wim Wenders On The Power Of Pope Francis, ‘A Man Of His Word’ In The Fake News Era – Cannes Studio

Wim Wenders hadn’t entertained the notion of an audience with the Pope when the Vatican wrote him to ask if he’d be interested in helming a documentary on the current incumbent Pope Francis. But the prospect was intriguing, he told Deadline…

Wim Wenders hadn’t entertained the notion of an audience with the Pope when the Vatican wrote him to ask if he’d be interested in helming a documentary on the current incumbent Pope Francis. But the prospect was intriguing, he told Deadline at our Cannes Studio ahead of the film’s festival premiere, especially when they explained their conditions. “We just want to instigate this,” they told him. “We want to throw this idea at you and if you like it, you’re going to have…

‘Pope Francis: A Man of His Word’ to Get Nationwide U.S. Release (EXCLUSIVE)

Focus Features is deploying a nationwide U.S. distribution strategy for “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” the Wim Wenders-directed documentary that launched in Cannes on Sunday as a special screening. The film’s North American release May 18 has been …

Focus Features is deploying a nationwide U.S. distribution strategy for “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” the Wim Wenders-directed documentary that launched in Cannes on Sunday as a special screening. The film’s North American release May 18 has been set at roughly 300 screens thanks to a marketing strategy that largely relies on outreach […]

Cannes Review: Pope Francis Documentary Is a Modest Film About a Bold Man

There are very few directors who have made both top-notch narrative films and documentaries, among them Michael Apted, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and a recent addition to the list, Cannes juror Ava DuVernay. But the German director Wim …

There are very few directors who have made both top-notch narrative films and documentaries, among them Michael Apted, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and a recent addition to the list, Cannes juror Ava DuVernay. But the German director Wim Wenders, who won the Palme d’Or for the masterful “Paris, Texas” in 1984 and recently was nominated for Oscars for the remarkable documentaries “Pina” and “The Salt of the Earth,” has to be near the top of the list.

And now he’s come to the Cannes Film Festival with “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word,” a modest and prosaically titled film about the Roman Catholic pontiff who has made it his mission to work on behalf of the poorest and most troubled, even if it means veering closer to controversial liberation theology than to the usual priorities of the Church.

The first thing to say about Wenders appearing at Cannes is that it’s probably a good thing that he’s doing so with a documentary. The 72-year-old director’s last few narrative films have been real duds: “Every Thing Will Be Fine,” “The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez” and “Submergence” were clunky and awkward.

Meanwhile, his two prior documentaries were deserving Oscar nominees. 2011’s “Pina” was a bold and magical performance film about the pioneering choreographer Pina Bausch, with a brilliant use of 3D to create the spaces in which Bausch’s art could take place, while 2014’s “The Salt of the Earth” was a lyrical and incisive look at Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, the father of Wenders’ co-director, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

“Pope Francis,” in many ways, is far closer to “Pina,” which is focused on performances of Bausch’s work, than to “The Salt of the Earth.” In fact, it’s also of a piece with other Wenders films like “Buena Vista Social Club,” because it is, in essence, a performance film.

That’s not to say that the pontiff sings or dances in the movie; his performance lies in conversation. The heart of the movie is Pope Francis sitting in a chair — sometimes a red brocade chair in a room with burnt orange walls, sometimes a pale chair in a garden surrounded by trees, with a church steeple in the distance — and delivering a message.

One of his first comments is, “The world today is mostly deaf,” and from there he spends the early stretches of the film upbraiding the Church for its emphasis on wealth. “I wanted a poor Church for the poor,” he says, and a moment later, “We either serve God or we serve money … As long as the Church is placing its hope on wealth, Jesus is not there.”

From there, we get a veritable Pope Francis’ Greatest Hits: washing the feet of poor South Americans (he himself is Argentinian), saying that it’s the duty of church officials to report pedophilia to the authorities, visiting refugees in Greece, decrying Donald Trump’s border wall and commenting, “If a person is gay and is searching for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”

The whole point of the film, driven home by black-and-white reenactments, is that the pope is a revolutionary in the mold of his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, who sought to moderate a truce between Christians and Muslims during the Crusades. But in tone and approach, this is an understated, affectionate film, more reverential than revolutionary; it’s less a portrait of the pope than a recital by him, with the boldness of his ideas undercut by the modesty of their telling.

In one way, that’s a strength of “Pope Francis” because it simply presents the man as he is, with a simplicity befitting the pope’s own demeanor. It’s not going to make converts out of anybody — I was raised Catholic, I’m definitely not one anymore and all the movie did was convince me that the pope is a good man.

Then again, Pope Francis is a healer, not a proselytizer. And Wenders knows enough to stand back and let him say his piece and make his peace.

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Pope Francis: A Man of His Word’

As both a fiction filmmaker and a documentarian, Wim Wenders has always been more concerned with the journeys of individuals than the systems and institutions in which those journeys are made. In his Palme d’Or winner “Paris, Texas,” Wenders tackled th…

As both a fiction filmmaker and a documentarian, Wim Wenders has always been more concerned with the journeys of individuals than the systems and institutions in which those journeys are made. In his Palme d’Or winner “Paris, Texas,” Wenders tackled themes ranging from urbanization to the breakdown of the Western family, but his focus remained […]

Wim Wenders on His Early Career, ‘Submergence’ and His Pope Francis Doc

In an eclectic career spanning half a century, Wim Wenders continues to channel the zeitgeist: his romantic thriller “Submergence” recently opened in the U.S. and his documentary “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” is set to premiere at Cannes. Wenders h…

In an eclectic career spanning half a century, Wim Wenders continues to channel the zeitgeist: his romantic thriller “Submergence” recently opened in the U.S. and his documentary “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” is set to premiere at Cannes. Wenders helped define New German Cinema with his road-movie trilogy starting in 1974, “Alice in […]

Wim Wenders Takes on Pope Francis in ‘A Man of His Word’ for Focus Features

Wim Wenders, with three documentary Oscars, next takes on Pope Francis as he reaches out to dialogue with the world.

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”).

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.

German director Wim Wenders arrives on the red carpet for the 30th European Film Awards, in Berlin, Germany, 09 December 2017. The nominations and winners are selected by more than 2,500 members of the European Film Academy.30th European Film Awards in Berlin, Germany - 09 Dec 2017

Wim Wenders

HAYOUNG JEON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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.

Universal Pictures International will distribute internationally. “Pope Francis — A Man of His Word” is produced by Wenders with Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Lo Monaco (“The World’s Smallest Army”), Andrea Gambetta, and David Rosier (“The Salt of the Earth”). The film is a production of Célestes Images, Centro Televisivo Vaticano, Solares Fondazione delle Arti, PTS Art’s Factory, Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse, and Decia Films.

Focus Features is on a roll, with six Oscar nominations each for Best Picture nominees “Darkest Hour” and “Phantom Thread.” Coming up is Jose Padilha’s “7 Days In Entebbe,” starring Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl; Jason Reitman’s new comedy “Tully,” starring Charlize Theron and written by Diablo Cody; Lenny Abrahamson’s thriller “The Little Stranger,” Joel Edgerton’s coming-of-age and coming-out drama “Boy Erased,” starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe; “Mary, Queen of Scots” with Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I; “On the Basis of Sex,” the real-life drama of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg staring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer; Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s directorial debut “Mustang,” and Spike Lee’s new film “Black Klansman.”

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Vatican-Produced Pope Francis Documentary Hits Theaters in May

Wim Wender’s “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” will open in domestic theaters on May 18, 2018, Focus Features announced Wednesday.

Written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Wender, the documentary is a rare co-production with the Vatican itself. It features behind-the-scenes footage and the Pope addresses his audience directly while answering questions about life, death, social justice and immigration, among other topics.

The film shows the pope during many journeys around the world, including footage of him speaking at the United Nations, addressing the Congress of the United States, and he also speaks to prisoners in correctional facilities as well as refugees in Mediterranean Land. In it, he also travels to the Holy Land, Africa, South America and Asia.

Also Read: Pope Francis Blasts ‘Fake News,’ Compares It to ‘Crafty Serpent’ Who Deceived Eve

Universal Pictures International will distribute the documentary internationally.

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” is produced by Wenders with Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco, Andrea Gambetta and David Rosier. The film is a production of Célestes Images, Centro Televisivo Vaticano, Solares Fondazione delle Arti, PTS Art’s Factory, Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse, and Decia Films.

Also Read: Focus Features Acquires Wim Wenders’ Pope Francis Doc ‘Man of His Word’

The announcement today coincided with Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Christians around the world.

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Wim Wender’s “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” will open in domestic theaters on May 18, 2018, Focus Features announced Wednesday.

Written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Wender, the documentary is a rare co-production with the Vatican itself. It features behind-the-scenes footage and the Pope addresses his audience directly while answering questions about life, death, social justice and immigration, among other topics.

The film shows the pope during many journeys around the world, including footage of him speaking at the United Nations, addressing the Congress of the United States, and he also speaks to prisoners in correctional facilities as well as refugees in Mediterranean Land. In it, he also travels to the Holy Land, Africa, South America and Asia.

Universal Pictures International will distribute the documentary internationally.

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” is produced by Wenders with Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco, Andrea Gambetta and David Rosier. The film is a production of Célestes Images, Centro Televisivo Vaticano, Solares Fondazione delle Arti, PTS Art’s Factory, Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse, and Decia Films.

The announcement today coincided with Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Christians around the world.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Sean Spicer Finally Got to Meet Pope Francis, No Thanks to Trump

Trump Snubbed Sean Spicer for Meeting With Pope Francis – and Reporters Feel Bad

Is Something Wrong With This Picture? Pope Francis Meets Trump