Pope Biopic to Open L.A. Italia Film Fest

'Call Me Francesco'
Courtesy of Call Me Francesco

The festival will also pay tribute to Oscar-nominated composer Ennio Morricone.

The 11th edition of the Los Angeles, Italia Film Festival will open with the American premiere of the Pope Francis biopic Call Me Francesco on Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Chinese Six Theaters. The festival is held one week before the Oscars and aims to draw attention to new and established talent from Italy. 

Directed by Daniele Luchetti, the film world premiered at the Vatican last December before an audience of 7,000, including many of Rome’s homeless and poor. The film stars Rodrigo De la Serna (The Motorcycle Diaries) as a young Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires, through to his rise as the first pontiff from the Americas.

“There is no one in today’s world who is more beloved and admired than Pope Francis,” said the festival’s director Pascal Vicedomini said. “We are truly pleased to be bringing this inspirational film about his remarkable life to Hollywood as the opening film of this year’s festival. We are also pleased to be introducing many quality Italian motion pictures, both past and present, from our country’s top directors and creative talent that feature an array of established and emerging performing artists.”

The festival will also feature the first-ever U.S. retrospective of Italian writer-director Mario Martone, including films Leopardi, Nasty Love, and We Believed. As previously announced, Oscar-nominated composer Ennio Morricone will receive a special honor at the festival.

Other American premieres announced for the festival include recent Italian comedy hits Carlo Verdone's The Big Score, Paolo Genovese’s Perfect Strangers, Guido Chiesa’s Belli di Papa and Marco Ponti’s Loving Only You.

The lineup will also feature the world premiere of Massimo Gaudioso’s An Almost Perfect Town. And other films include Carlo Carlei’s The Boundary, Massimo Natale’s The Interpreter, and Francesco Cinquemani’s Andron starring Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Leo Howard.

The Los Angeles Italia Festival runs Feb. 21 to 27.

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