VATICAN CITY. Pope Francis will be featured in a new documentary premiering at this year’s Venice Film Festival; the film covers his near decade of travel, with visits to almost 60 countries.
Titled, “In Viaggio” (“Traveling”), the film is directed by Gianfranco Rosi, an Italian-American documentary filmmaker who won the Venice Film Festival’s best film award, the Golden Lion, with his 2013 film, “Sacro GRA.” He won the Golden Bear — the Berlin Film Festival’s best film award, with his 2016 film, “Fire at Sea.”
The 79th Venice Film Festival will take place at the Venice Lido from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10.
The high-profile, annual showcase of new films released its official program July 26, listing Rosi’s 80-minute documentary as part of its “out of competition” line-up, that is, a small number of important works that are presented, but do not compete for the main prize.
“It is an extraordinary film, an incredible piece of work” gleaned from hundreds of hours of footage, Alberto Barbera, the festival’s director, said in remarks reported by the Italian news agency ANSA July 26. “If we think we know everything about the pope’s travels, this film will make us think again.”
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has made 37 trips abroad and visited 56 countries outside of Italy. His very first official visit outside Rome as pope was to the small Italian island of Lampedusa, where he mourned the deaths of migrants who drowned at sea and offered comfort to those who survived the journey across the Mediterranean.
Barbera said the film follows the pope to the island and the many nations he has visited and ties the journeys together by highlighting common themes, such as poverty, nature, migration, war and solidarity.
“It is a kind of a Way of the Cross,” he said, in that “Francis gives witness to the suffering of the world and experiences the difficulty of doing something more, beyond the comfort of his words and presence.”
ANSA reported producer Donatella Palermo said Rosi, who was in Canada filming the pope’s latest trip there July 24-29, will continue to add footage to the original film as the pope travels.
Rosi chose to do this documentary out of “the desire to tell the story of the emotion of seeing the world through the eyes of Francis,” Palermo said.
The film is expected to be released in theaters Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.