Pope Francis, the head of the global Catholic church, is to be the first pope to appear in a film, The Guardian reports.
The pontiff will play himself in Beyond the Sun, an Italian-made family movie based on the gospels, which was inspired by the Pope’s call for film-makers to cater for children when thinking about how Jesus’s message should be communicated through cinema.
All profits from the film are to be donated to two Argentinian charities that help at-risk children and young adults. Shooting is due to begin imminently in Italy.
Andrea Iervolino, co-founder of AMBI Pictures, who will fund and distribute the film, said:
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?
However, there are conflicting reports about the scale of Pope Francis’s involvement in the project. Initial indications suggested he would figure significantly through the movie; information on AMBI’s site mentions only “an epilogue from Pope Francis telling children how and where to find Jesus”.
“The pope is not an actor,” a Vatican spokesman said, downplaying suggestions that Francis would be making any kind of film debut.