Italy's Giffoni Fest Breaks New Ground, Invites Pope Francis to 2014 Edition

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Pope Francis

The 43-year-old festival, Europe's oldest and largest children's film festival, has attracted many Hollywood stars in past years. But never a pope.

ROME – Italy’s Giffoni Film Festival has had its fair share of stars over its 43-year history, and for next year’s edition organizers have their eye on adding an unlikely name to that list: Pope Francis.

Speaking Thursday during the festival, which runs through Sunday, artistic director Claudio Gubitosi said the idea to invite the new pontiff came while watching him on television addressing crowds during World Youth Day in Brazil. The parallel is a natural one for Giffoni, the oldest and largest children’s film festival in Europe.

“It would be marvelous if Poe Francis could be here next year, in an event where children come from all over the world,” Gubitosi said, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

There was no immediate response from the Vatican. 

If the pope did agree to attend the event, it would be a first -- there is no record of a pope ever attending a film festival as an invited guest -- but it would not be out of character for Francis, who so far in his short papacy has made a habit out of bucking tradition and making contact with crowds whenever possible, especially young people.

The Giffoni festival, located in the historic and picturesque village of Giffoni Valle Piana -- just 180 miles southeast of the Vatican City walls -- has attracted many big-name stars over its history, including recent-year invitees Danny De Vito, Meg Ryan, Nicolas Cage, and this year’s main guests, Jessica Chastain and Giancarlo Giannini.

Twitter: @EricJLyman