Pope Francis, the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, believes that movies are so important in spreading the gospel of Jesus that he has agreed to play himself in “Beyond the Sun,” a family film in development at AMBI Pictures, the company announced Monday.
The idea for the feature film emanated from Pope Francis asking the filmmakers to do a movie for children that communicates Jesus’ message. Monsignor Eduardo Garcia will serve as Pope Francis’ adviser on the project.
Pope Francis’ appearance in “Beyond the Sun” will mark the film debut for any pope in the history of the Catholic Church. He will play himself in the inspirational film based on the Gospels, in which children from different cultures will emulate the apostles while searching for Jesus in the world around them.
The pontiff is participating in the movie in the name of charity, with all profits from “Beyond the Sun” benefiting two selected organizations — El Almendro and Los Hogares de Cristo (located in Argentina) — that support the film’s social and spiritual message. These charities help aid at-risk children and young adults in need.
AMBI co-founders Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi are fully financing and producing the film through their AMBI Pictures banner. Graciela Rodriguez wrote the screenplay based on her own concept, and she’ll also serve as a co-producer alongside Gabriel Leybu.
“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,” said Iervolino, for whom the project has special meaning.
At the age of 15, Iervolino made his first film in his hometown of Cassino, Italy. It was the church that opened its doors and let him shoot his film there, sparking a career that has seen him produce over 50 films by age 27.
“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,” added Iervolino.
“It is a great honor for Andrea and I to have the opportunity to work with His Holiness, Pope Francis, to spread the awareness of his message, through this film. We will make a movie everyone involved with can be proud of. Not only will families from around globe enjoy this film and be entertained, but they will be moved. There are creative ways to help those in need all over the world and we hope this film does just that. We appreciate Pope Francis’s permission to film him and use his image in our movie,” said Bacardi.
Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2016 in Italy. AMBI will oversee worldwide distribution for “Beyond the Sun” through its Los Angeles-based international sales division AMBI Distribution.
AMBI is currently developing a remake of Christopher Nolan‘s “Memento” and a biopic of Lamborghini founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, among other projects.