Evgeny Afineevsky called his Pope Francis documentary Francesco a “healing moment” during a Discovery+ panel for the feature film at Deadline’s Contenders Documentary. He also said Pope Francis’ leadership inspired him during the Covid pandemic.
“I think specifically coming out of the pandemic and coming out of a lack of leadership, because we saw a huge lack of leadership during the pandemic in different places of the world, that we’re still struggling,” Afineevsky said. “I’m looking for hope.”
He began the film in 2018 but completed it in 2020. Francesco premiered at last year’s Rome Film Festival and in March on nascent streaming service Discovery+.
In the film, Pope Francis comes out in support of civil unions for the LGBTQ community. Afineevsky said he was also inspired by the way the pontiff sent aid directly to the transgender community.
“Last year, I learned how, during the pandemic, Pope Francis sent money to transgender prostitutes working on the streets of Italy,” Afineevsky said. “He’s a man of action, and I think this bodes well.”
The filmmaker said Pope Francis remains inspiring in his statements since he completed the film.
“Last month when he was on a plane from Hungary, he reiterated this again that he wants people to have equal rights,” Afineevsky said. “That’s why he’s standing for the civil unions. He wants people to have insurance. He wants people to have equality, and he reiterated this in front of every camera of the world.”
The filmmaker said he noticed the same attitude whether Pope Francis was speaking to him privately or addressing a full news pool.
“He is straight-to-the-point and direct person,” Afineevsky said. “He is a simple, humble person who talks to me directly, [says] what he feels and what comes out of his heart. And I think one of these things you can see in the movie is that he’s always talking to you directly.”
Check out the panel video above.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.