Martin Scorsese is on a post-Cannes tour of Italy where over the weekend the director, known for having a religious bent, met with Pope Francis and announced that he will make a film about Jesus.
“I have responded to the Pope’s appeal to artists in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus,” Scorsese announced on Saturday during a Rome conference at the Vatican, according to multiple reports. “And I’m about to start making it,” the director added, suggesting that this could be his next film.
Also on Saturday, before attending the conference – titled “The Global Aesthetics of the Catholic Imagination” – Scorsese and his wife Helen Morris met Pope Francis during a brief private audience at the Vatican.
The conference was organized by Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica and Georgetown University. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the religious periodical, said on the publication’s website that during their conversation at the confab Scorsese alternated between references to his films and personal anecdotes and explained “How the Holy Father’s appeal ‘to let us see Jesus’ moved him,” he said.
Regarding cinematic references, during the conversation Scorsese cited his admiration for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew.” Scorsese also talked about the meaning of his own controversial 1988 epic “The Last Temptation of Christ” and of “the subsequent step in his research on the figure of Jesus” represented by his smaller-scale 2016 drama “Silence” about the persecution of Jesuit Christians in 17th-century Japan. That film screened in 2016 at the Vatican. Francis is the first Jesuit pope and is known to have joined the Jesuit order hoping to become a missionary in Japan.
Scorsese’s manager Rick Yorn did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the director’s new religion-related project.
Scorsese’s Italian tour also involves a series of screenings of his films, paired with works that have inspired his body of work, that he will present on Monday at Rome’s Casa del Cinema cinematheque; a master class on Tuesday for students of Rome’s Centro Sperimentale film school; and an onstage conversation on Friday in Bologna where he will be a guest of the Cineteca di Bologna, the film archives that run the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival dedicated to heritage film.