Scorsese Meets With Pope Before Vatican Screening Of Oscar-Tipped Christian Persecution Movie


Veteran film-maker Martin Scorsese has met with Pope Francis to talk about the director's new movie Silence. The pair met along with the film's producer Gaston Pavlovich on Wednesday to discuss the film, which concerns the persecution of Christian missionaries in 17th Century Japan.

According to Hollywood 'bible' Variety, Scorsese was granted a private audience with the Pontiff in what the magazine cals "a clear show of support for Silence, Scorsese's passion project". The film tells the story of two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor, and face various kinds of religious persecution as they attempt to share their faith with locals.

Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, joined the religious order with his own ambitions of serving as a missionary to Japan, and it's thought that it was this strong connection which led to his meeting with Scorsese. The 15-minute audience, described as "very cordial" by the Vatican press office, involved an exchange of gifts between the director and the Pope, who reportedly informed Scorsese that he had read the novel on which Silence is based.

The film, which stars Hacksaw Ridge lead Andrew Garfield and Star Wars baddie Adam Driver in the central roles, has been in the works for almost 30 years. Scorsese – himself a committed Catholic who considered the priesthood before entering the film industry – has long wanted to make the film, but was unable to find financing until Pavlovich, a wealthy businessman producer who shares his faith, joined the project.

On Tuesday the film was screened for 300 Jesuit priests in Rome, as a precursor to the meeting; the first time the film had ever been seen in full. Afterwards Scorsese posted on Facebook: "It was an extremely powerful experience, almost indescribable, to see a film about Jesuit missionaries among my brother Jesuits from all over the world." On Wednesday, after the papal audience, the film was due to be shown again in the 50-seat screening room of the Vatican Film Library, although it was unclear whether the Pontiff himself would be in attendance.

Silence will be released internationally in January 2017.

Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. Follow him on Twitter @martinsaunders.

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