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S+L Staff Review the New Film "Pope Francis – A Man of His Word"

May 18, 2018
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Pope Francis – A Man of His Word
Director: Wim Wenders
Rating: PG
Running time: 96 minutes
Release date: May 18, 2018
Wim Wenders’ new documentary on Pope Francis is both a study of his public persona and an exploration of the message that has been at the core of his papacy so far: love for one another and love for God’s creation, a message grounded in Jesus Christ and the Gospel. It also emphasizes the connection between Pope Francis’ consistent call to care for the poor and the marginalized (of whom Mother Earth is the poorest of all) with the spirituality of St. Francis and his radical living out of the Gospel message.
Several Salt + Light staff members attended an advance screening of the film. Here are some of their thoughts:
 
Sebastian Gomes
Producer
 
The creators of Pope Francis – A Man of His Word offer us an opportunity to encounter Francis in a new way. It's the same message he's been preaching for the past five years delivered through a new medium: speaking directly to the camera for much of the film, i.e. directly to you and me. He preaches a powerful message, and the delivery only amplifies it. Viewers will get a broad and comprehensive survey of the Pope’s priorities, but the finesse with which they transition between topics doesn’t make it overwhelming. The Pope speaks so plainly and sincerely, that everyone will walk out of the cinema simultaneously inspired and challenged, which is exactly what the Pope’s role is as a spiritual leader in the global community.
 
Esmeralda Blasi
Production Coordinator
 
It is a good movie. I really liked it!
It’s very Pope-centered and shows all the things Pope Francis has done during these five years of his papacy, acting from a somewhat unusual point of view on life and Catholicism. A point of view that reflects the one of Saint Francis of Assisi, from whom he took his name.
I enjoyed the “flashbacks” on Saint Francis’ life that enhanced the similarities between the two of them.
“Tenderness is not weakness, it’s strength!”
He shows us how important it is to care for the poor, for this planet: mother Earth, for peace among peoples, for happiness.
Being Catholic and working in this field, I know the Pope and all the amazing things he does, but I think this movie can help bringing Pope Francis’ message to the world, also and especially to those people who don’t know him so well yet!
 
Francisco Gonzalez
Web Developer
 
I'm proud that the film industry is finally creating productions like Pope Francis – A Man of His Word, a film full of professionalism and creativity from any angle you view it.
The film offers a clear response to whoever wonders who Pope Francis is. In a very structured way, it shows the spiritual and the social background that shaped his personality through the years. It goes back and forth between the history of Saint Francis of Assisi and the pastoral ministry of Pope Francis, which explains to viewers why choosing the name of Francis is a very accurate and meaningful representation of the spirituality that moves the pontiff. Representations of the reality of Latin America and even the use of such an emblematic song as Solo le pido a Dios from Mercedes Sosa are powerful elements used throughout the film to offer a solid understanding of why he is so connected and moved by human reality and why he holds such a strong position when it comes to issues like climate change, poverty, and immigration.
Finally, I must praise the use of an Errol Morris-style of filming which gives a particular touch of intimacy that reinforces the meaning of every single word coming from him and aimed directly at the hearts and souls of viewers. I can only give five stars to this wonderful film.
 
Kristina Glicksman
Copy and Web Content Editor
 
I came to this film expecting a hagiographic presentation of Pope Francis and his papacy, the usual media whitewashing. What I found was something infinitely more challenging: a consistent message of love and mercy firmly rooted in the Gospel. It’s so hard these days not to get caught up in the mess of opinions that surrounds Pope Francis, and this movie brought into sharp focus for me the core of his teaching, which is the call to live out the Christian vocation with great love and courage. The challenge of this message was made all the more powerful and personal by the use of exclusive interview footage, not because it said anything new, but because I was able to hear him speaking clearly, eloquently, and profoundly, directly to the camera, and to me. This is a beautiful movie and one that I would definitely watch again.
 
Richard Valenti
Senior Editor
 
This film presents us with an intimate portrait of Pope Francis, and it’s a complete portrait. I’ve heard others say that the film does not go deep enough or is not “gritty,” but what many don’t realize is that this is Francis’ pontificate — simple and straightforward. It’s what you see, with no deep analyzing or decoding necessary.
This film is the closest most people will ever have to an audience with Pope Francis. And it is authentic. When you have an audience with the pope, he looks you directly in the eye. He is fully present to you in that moment, as is the concept of this film. The film isn’t perfect; it’s hard to recall a film that is. And being a filmmaker, I often have the burden of not being able to fully enjoy a film because I dissect, challenge narrative decisions, and think of ways I would do things differently.
Who is this film for? It’s for lapsed and practising Christians, it’s for people who care about society and the world we live in, it’s for the family. It’s for those who struggle to figure out where they belong in this complicated world. And it’s probably for you.
To read Richard's full review, click here.
 
Breanna Azevedo
Intern, Production & Programming
 
Pope Francis – A Man of His Word takes you on a personal and spiritual journey with Pope Francis and the issues closest to his heart. This includes providing thought provoking answers to issues and topics that are quite prominent and divisive today, with the ability to reach out to a diverse audience. This film compares the mission of St. Francis with Pope Francis’ works, and how he has brought to light in today’s modern world the teachings and the life of St. Francis himself. As you follow Pope Francis throughout his many global visits, you can’t help but be introduced to him more intimately as he uses his power through words to bring unity to a divided and conflicted world.
 
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