'Francesco' Director on Headline-Making New Pope Doc (Exclusive)

Evgeny Afineevsky
Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

No 2020 documentary has made more headlines than Oscar nominee Evgeny Afineevsky's Francesco, a new film about Pope Francis and the people whose lives he has touched.

Immediately after Francesco's Oct. 21 world premiere at the Rome Film Festival, word began to spread like wildfire all around the world that the Holy Father had endorsed the idea of civil unions for gay couples. And while that is certainly one noteworthy aspect of the film, there are many others, too, from the Pope's thinly-veiled reference to Pres. Donald Trump ("Those who build walls end up trapped by those walls") to details about his close relationships with survivors of sexual abuse by priests.

The Hollywood Reporter was with Afineevsky as the Pope sang him "Happy Birthday" before the premiere, at the socially-distanced screening itself and in the days following the explosion of the film's profile. Here is an exclusive video interview with the filmmaker, followed by an exclusive interview with sexual abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, conducted in the Gardens of Vatican City overlooking St. Peter's Basilica.

The film, which is still seeking U.S. distribution, is now screening through Oct. 31 as part of the virtual 2020 SCAD Savannah Film Festival.