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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Two Popes

by director Fernando Meirelles

I feel quite pessimistic about the state of the world, but the one thing that is a bright light for me is Pope Francis. So, when producer Dan Lin came to me with the idea doing a film about the Pope, I was intrigued. And then when I read Anthony McCarten’s terrific script, I knew I was in.

Francis is the first Pope whose thinking is based in science. In 2015, he published the Laudato Si’—about the care of the common house. That was what made me pay more attention to this Pope, in addition to his charming pop-star protocol-breaker style of the early months. In this encyclical he makes a harsh condemnation of the consumerism and the insanity of our economic model that, like a cancer, is depleting the planet and creating a dystopian society. It’s curious that he, a churchman, starts from a scientific finding to arrive at his document, while some world leaders who should be the most rational choose to deny science and rely on their beliefs to create their documents. The encyclical assumes the contemporary idea that everything is connected, man is part of this broth of nature. Pope Francis shows that there are not two separate crises, but one crisis that can only be resolved together, the socio-environmental crisis. I don’t have his religious beliefs, but I share his political views.
This is a radical thing for the Catholic Church, and a really interesting idea to play with. The idea that these two esteemed men, Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, one a progressive and one steeped in conservatism and traditional Catholic doctrine, could come together to discuss their differences, and somehow have the tolerance to find common ground, was very exciting to me.

We live in a world where ideas have become more and more polarized and this film is for me a microcosm of that idea. How about we bring these two men with wildly different views into place where they can talk and we can see them not just as religious and thought leaders, but as men. Isn’t that what we need right now? The tolerance and patience to hear each other? Isn’t that, perhaps, what is missing in the world? I hope so.

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