UPDATE, 8:14 AM: Philomena might well be the underdog in the Best Picture Oscar race, but its subject continues to make the most of her moment to stump for transparency in unlocking records for the estimated 60,000 forced adoptions of wedlock babies that were supervised by churches in Ireland and the UK. Late last month, she spoke on Capitol Hill. Today, Philomena Lee (played in the film by Judi Dench) the charity Lee launched late last week in Dublin in concert with the ARA. took to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis to urge him to change the system that led to her being separated from her son. As the film depicts, she was repeatedly lied to by the nuns at the abbey where she gave birth, nuns who felt little empathy for a sheltered teen who got pregnant out of wedlock. A print of the movie was delivered to the Vatican to be screened today, though it was unclear whether the Pope will have time to see it. If there was one Pope, though, where this might make a difference, it is Pope Francis, who has exhibited compassion and empathy toward same sex couples, challenging long held institutional bias against them. Harvey Weinstein, by the way, was not among the contingent at the Vatican; he wasn’t involved in setting the meeting. That was done by Lee’s new foundation. Weinstein is en route to Berlin.
As for the film, Philomena will broaden its run to 2500 screens by Valentine’s Day, which, not coincidentally is the day that ballots start being filled out for the Academy Awards. Considering the number of times that Weinstein has been vilified by the church for films that covered subjects like sexual abuse by priests, seeing one of TWC’s films screened at the Vatican is fairly remarkable, even if Weinstein didn’t set it up. (more…)