Well, this could be interesting: veteran arthouse filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, The Buena Vista Social Club) was allowed unprecedented access to Pope Francis I in order to construct what is being described not as a biographical documentary, but a personal journey with the Pope. The key idea behind Pope Francis – A Man of His Word, we’re told, is “…to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions from death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.”
So, how cynical are we feeling? On the one hand, Francis I is unarguably the most reform-minded Pope the church has seen in a long time, and a look at how he performs his papal duties in a rapidly changing and increasingly secular world should be fascinating. On the other, this film is a co-production with the Vatican, who might be keen for a little positive publicity given recent events – we probably shouldn’t expect too many hard questions being asked. Indeed, according to the presser, the film spends a lot of time on Francis’s “…deep concern for the poor, his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, and his call for peace in areas of conflict and between world religions.” He takes questions from people from all walks of life – “…farmers and workers, refugees, children and the elderly, prison inmates, and those who live in favelas and migrant camps…” – but it’s doubtful if any of those questions are along the lines of “So, what’s the story with George Pell?”
Still, this should be an arresting look at a major religious figure in a time of immense social, spiritual, and geopolitical change. Expect Pope Francis – A Man of His Word in Australian cinemas later this year.