"Francesco" film tour starts in Newcastle

WHAT a privilege it was to be part of the first Newcastle audience watching the screening of Francesco last month as part of a national tour, writes Alison Rebello.

Clergy, RE teachers, lecturers, head teachers more than 600 students watched the film across the country, and many more will in May as curriculum guide on it launches, aimed at 13-21 year olds, focussing on RE, geography and humanities.

Francesco explores Pope Francis’ progressive policies and the role he has played to push the Church to address major issues that the world faces today.

After the film was screened, director Evgeny Afineevsky took questions, and told the audience that Pope Francis had watched the film, in instalments - on Evgeny’s i-Pad.

Evgeny said: “What I wanted to relay to the world was a testament to the power of one person to make a difference and inspire the viewers to do the same. I pursued Pope Francis to make the film during the pandemic because I felt the world needed to see humanity from a figure like him.”

Speaking about his personal encounter with the pope, Evgeny said: “Pope Francis is a man of prayer and the making of the film changed me as a person. Every time, I went in with some ideas. But the Holy Spirit had different ideas and that made me think the film was not meant to be directed by me but God - the director of us all - himself. Throughout the making of the film I felt the power of God and that made me think about my Jewish name Gabriel guiding me in the process.”

To get a feel about people’s opinion I spoke to few individuals about their experience of the film. 

Jesuit priest Fr Peter Randall said that Francesco inspires hope: “Listening to the survivors story was profound, and the path of transformation that Pope Francis chose when he summoned the Chilean bishops and clergy, Nazism, and Stalinism, and yet it is tragic that we are watching similar scenes in Ukraine again.

"Besides that, the role of women is being flagged up, there is a lot of talk about women being office bearers in Vatican, the witness with the Muslim and Jewish faithful, the visit of the walls-the wailing wall experience and the mention of the Mexican wall, scenes from Aleppo, and the story of the Rohingyas were all powerful reminders of what is happening around the world, and yet how he is embracing all of it. So I recommend watching the film.”

Diocesan Head of Justice and Peace Fr Chris Hughes said: “Through the film I was confronted by Pope Francis’ humanity, depth, humour, humility, openness and his profound love for people who are on the margins. It was the faces of those who encountered Francis that made a deep impression on me. They clearly felt loved valued and appreciated by him."

You can now watch Francesco on all main streaming platforms. To find out more about the curriculum guide visit francescofilm.com

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