Homeless, poor get star treatment at Vatican movie premiere

IMAGE: CNS photo/TaodueFilm, distributed by Medusa

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) — The usual fanfare that comes with the world premiere of a movie
is pretty standard: the lights and cameras, the celebrities walking down the
red carpet and screaming fans trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite

the Vatican, however, a movie premiere is not your typical star-studded event.

world premiere of “Call
Me Francesco,” the first movie based on the life of Pope Francis,
took place in the Vatican audience hall Dec. 1 and those considered celebrities
in the eyes of the pope were in attendance.

this exceptional premiere, the Holy Father wished to invite the poor, the
homeless, refugees and the people most in need, together with the volunteers,
religious and lay people, who work daily in charity,” a statement from the
papal almoner’s office said.

and charitable associations in Rome were given 7,000 tickets for the poor to
attend the premiere at the Vatican. The night also included a concert featuring
the Pontifical Swiss Guard’s musical band. The papal almoner’s office said that
many of the Swiss Guards offered to play during their free time as a gift to
the homeless.

poor were also offered a brown-bag dinner “donated especially for the
occasion by several benefactors.”

by Italian filmmaker Daniele
Luchetti, “Call Me Francesco” details the life of Jorge Mario
Bergoglio, from his humble beginnings in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to his election to the
papacy in 2013.

the premiere, Luchetti expressed his hope that the movie would be “an
emotional moment” in following “the footsteps of a man we
admire.” While all the details of the pope’s life are not known, the Italian
director said he was optimistic that the film would explain “how he came
to be and for what reasons.”

For Argentine actor Rodrigo de la Serna,
portraying the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the silver screen was a dream
come true. “It’s crazy, I never imagined in my life to be here at the
Vatican, much less portraying Jorge Mario Bergoglio. It’s a dream!” de la
Serna told Catholic News Service. Seeing how well the movie was received by the
7,000 guests, he said, was “something that I will never forget.”

David, one of the thousands of homeless
people attending the premiere said that it was “truly emotional” to
the see the path followed by Pope Francis. “His way of being close to the
poor, close to people in need and the endless struggle against evil” was
particularly moving, he told CNS.

Of the many groups at the premiere, one
stood out in the crowd, holding a large colorful banner with the words,
“Thank you, Pope Francis!” The banner belonged to a group of refugees
from Eritrea who were invited to attend.

A young refugee who wished to remain
anonymous told CNS that he was happy to see the film and that the pope’s life
showed that prayer can be a powerful solution, even in the most difficult

“Some of us will continue to other
countries, others will stay here in Italy. We are refugees,” he said. Pope
Francis’ story, he continued, gave him hope that “everything will be
all right for us.”

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