Master documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, whose “Sacro Gra” won the Venice Golden Lion in 2013, is back on the Lido with “In Viaggio,” a doc about Pope Francis’ travels in which the director creates a counterpoint between archival footage and images that Rosi shot himself. Variety has been given access to an exclusive clip (above) from the film, which premieres in Venice on Sept. 5.
In the first nine years of his pontificate, Pope Francis made 37 trips visiting 53 countries, focusing on his key issues: poverty, migration, the environment, solidarity and war.
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Intrigued by the fact that two of Francis’s trips – the first to the refugees landing in the Sicilian island of Lampedusa; the second in 2021 to the Middle East – so closely mirrored the itineraries of the director’s “Fuocoammare” (Fire At Sea, 2016) and “Notturno” (2020), Rosi follows the Pope’s Stations of the Cross. “He sees what he sees, hears what he says,” the press notes point out, and interweaves archival footage of Francis’ travels with images taken by Rosi himself and recent historical events.
“I first met Pope Francis after he saw ‘Fire at Sea’ and visited Lampedusa,” says Rosi in his director’s statement. “We spoke briefly in the Vatican about the problem of forced migration, which was already a crucial issue for him. But I had no idea about the extent of his travels until I was interviewed for “Notturno” by the Vatican newspaper, the “Osservatore Romano,” Rosi adds.
“For Francis, travel is an intellectual and spiritual practice. The idea of this pope constantly in motion, circling the globe, fascinated me. I asked to see some of the footage from his trips and ended up with a sea of about 500 hours of material. Would it be possible to turn this sea of rough neutral reportage into a compelling portrait of this man?,” the director wonders.
“We were constantly rearranging, adding and cutting, feeling for a coherent sequence regardless of place or chronology or theme.”
Then, says Rosi, “The invasion of Ukraine changed our approach and forced the material into a coherent order. Chronology became essential. Francis had always spoken forcefully against all war. Now his warnings, and his analysis of the pattern of war, stood out.”
“In Viaggio” is produced by Rosi’s 21Uno Film shingle with Donatella Palermo’s Stemal Entertainment and RAI Cinema. The Match Factory is handling international sales.
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