For the first time in cinematic history, the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church will play himself in a big screen feature. Pope Francis is due to appear in family adventure film Beyond The Sun from AMBI Pictures. The casting came about after the pope asked the filmmakers to make a movie for children that communicates the message of Jesus. All profits from the faith-based film will be donated to two charities, El Almendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, which help aid at-risk children and young adults in need, and are located in Argentina, Pope Francis’ home country.
The inspirational story of Beyond The Sun is based on the Gospels and told in several tales. It will focus on children from different cultures who emulate the apostles while searching for Jesus in the world around them. The filmmakers say it is intended to “spiritually engage and encourage audiences of all ages to transmit Jesus’ words, to understand them and integrate them to live a better life, make good choices and help others.” Graciela Rodriguez wrote the screenplay. The producers are currently out to directors.
AMBI Group co-founders Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi are fully financing and producing through their AMBI Pictures banner. Co-producers are Rodriguez and Gabriel Leybu. Principal photography is slated to begin in early 2016 in Italy. AMBI will oversee worldwide distribution through its LA-based international sales division, AMBI Distribution.
Says Iervolino, “Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words. 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… This movie will provide funds to support extremely worthwhile causes that we take very seriously. This message and cause are very dear to the entire AMBI family and we are honored and inspired by the level of collaboration from the Vatican.”
Monsegnior Eduardo Garcia will be Pope Francis’ advisor for the film.
AMBI Group is a consortium of vertically integrated film development, production, finance and distribution companies. It launched a $200M fund in November and said its AMBI Pictures would finance and produce a remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and has several other projects afoot. It acquired the Exclusive Media Group library in September.