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Jules and Gedeon Naudet, the French filmmakers behind CBS’ Emmy-winning “9/11,” have reunited with the network for another documentary, this one featuring 12 of the world’s most influential religious and spiritual leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI and the Dalai Lama.
Titled “In God’s Name,” the docu will air as a two-hour special in December.
Jules Naudet said the idea for the project was born on Sept. 11, 2001. He was inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the South Tower started to collapse.
“As I was running for my life, I was confronted with mortality and questions about the meaning of life,” he said. “These questions continued to be in the back of my mind, and after a couple of years, I decided we should ask them to the people who would have the answers.”
Two and a half years ago, the Naudet brothers began researching issues of religion and traveled around the world to meet 12 spiritual leaders: the pope; the Dalai Lama; Patriarch Alexei II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church; Bishop Mark Hanson, president of the Lutheran World Federation; Dr. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England; Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a prominent Shi’ite Muslim leader; Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, Sheikh of Al-Azhar and a prominent Sunni Muslim leader; Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel; Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the Sikhs’ highest authority; Michihisa Kitashirakawa, high priest of the Shinto Grand Shrine of Ise; and Amma, a Hindu spiritual leader.
“We chose these 12 leaders because of the vast number of believers — more than 4 billion — that their faiths represent,” Gedeon Naudet said. “We also wanted to explore the diversity of spirituality in our world today.”
“Name” was influenced by the increased importance of religion in the post-Sept. 11 world.
“It ended up being exactly what we dreamed of capturing — the differences, the similarities and the beauty of religions, which all strive toward tolerance and understanding,” Jules Naudet said.
The filming of the documentary was financed by the Naudets, who then approached CBS.
“Name” is produced by the Naudets and CBS News’ Susan Zirinsky, the trio behind “9/11.” Mark Koops of Reveille, which represents the Naudets, serves as an executive producer.
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