Pope Francis will play himself in the new religious movie “Beyond the Sun,” marking his acting debut and the first time that a pope has appeared in a feature film. [note: not quite true…see below]. “Beyond the Sun” — from Ambi Pictures — is a family adventure based on the Gospels. Pope Francis asked the filmmakers to make a movie that communicated Jesus’ message to children. AMBI co-founders Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi will finance and produce the film. Graciela Rodriguez wrote the screenplay and will co-produce with Gabriel Leybu. Monsignor Eduardo Garcia will be Pope Francis’ advisor. All profits from the film will be donated to Argentinean charities El Alemendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, which aid at-risk children and young adults. Iervolino made his first film in his hometown of Cassino, Italy, at age 15. “Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words,” he said. “This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope.”
However, Tony Rossi of the the Christophers notes:
Father Steve Grunow of “Word on Fire” ministries just sent me an email that Pope Francis will not actually be the first pope to appear as himself on the big screen:
Tony, I saw your post about a new film in which Pope Francis would appear. You cite this as a first, but Pope Pius XII appeared as himself in the movie “Embezzled Heaven” in 1958. I think that though Pope Francis is first in many things, Pope Pius gets the number one distinction here. Peace, Father SteveI suspect that Pope Pius gave up acting because he decided that what he really wanted to do was direct.
You can read The New York Times review of “Embezzled Heaven” here. (Pius is barely mentioned.) Those who are curious can see the pope’s performance below:
UPDATE: The Vatican has clarified the pope’s role :
The Prefect of the recently established Secretariat for Communications, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, has refuted press reports claiming Pope Francis “will play himself” in an upcoming film. The film production company ENVI Pictures issued a statement on Monday saying Pope Francis will appear in the film “Beyond the Sun.” “The Pope is not an actor,” Msgr. Viganò said. He added that no scenes for the movie were filmed “for purpose,” although he does not exclude “as has happened before, video clips of the Pope could appear in the film.”