I never thought I’d do a film about the Vatican. In fact I never thought I’d do most of the things that I have done or do, so the phrase above is completely irrelevant. Let me start over.

The director Fernando Meirelles

The invitation to direct a film about the Pope for Netflix came from my agent in Los Angeles at the end of last year. Since I was going to be occupied this year, I thanked him, but declined. Chris was already used to my being a lousy client, but this time he insisted:

“You should at least read the screenplay which is based on a play written by the Englishman Anthony McCarten which has yet to be performed. Even if you don’t do the film, it’s worth reading,” he said.

I read it.

The screenplay does in fact have some powerful scenes, but what attracted me more than the plot was that this would be a pretext to get to know Pope Francis, but not personally, of course. The Pope is one of the most interesting and necessary voices of our times. Inequality, intolerance, the environmental crisis and global warming. This week he even talked about the advantages and disadvantages of a more connected world. It’s impressive; he’s always getting it right.

Taking advantage of a delay in the schedule of my project, I called Chris and told him I’d do it. Now here I am in London, coming from Rome and on my way to Buenos Aires.

Scouting location visit – Argentina – Photo sent by Fernando Meirelles

Scouting location visit – Italy – Photo sent by Fernando Meirelles

The provisional title of the film is The Pope. I know it’s a bit obvious, but it’s only temporary. The story revolves around the relationship between Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Bergoglio and begins with the death of João Paulo II in 2005 and continues until the present day. Jonathan Pryce will play Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins will play the German pope. Actor Juan Menujin will play the Pope in his youth.

Actors Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins and the Popes Francis and Benedict XVI.

At the request of Celia Regina who edits O2’s website, this is the first of several posts, which is something I’ve done several times before. I have no pretension in these chronicles, but they may be useful to film students. As can be seen from the past, they’ve always been useful to me, because they help me organize my ideas and the reflections that occur to me over the course of this process.

This is just a teaser.