Hot Button Pope Francis Doc 'Francesco' Goes to Discovery+ (Exclusive)

FRANCESCO
Courtesy of DISCOVERY+

Francesco, a documentary feature about Pope Francis that premiered at last October's Rome Film Festival to strong notices and had the whole world talking about the pontiff's comments regarding gay Catholics, has been acquired by discovery+, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The film will be released in virtual cinemas ahead of its debut on discovery+ on Sunday, March 28, which marks the start of Holy Week.

The deal was negotiated by ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers.

Directed and produced by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky (Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom), who received unprecedented access to the Pope and the Vatican, Francesco chronicles the Pope's work around the globe and views — on LGBTQ issues, climate change, migration and refugees, women's empowerment, sexual abuse, border walls and more — both in the run-up to the pandemic and after the world went into lockdown.

It features interviews with the Pope, as well as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Francis' nephew Jose Ignacio Bergoglio and Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest.

"It is an honor to host the global premiere of Francesco on discovery+, spotlighting an intimate look at one of the world's most beloved and influential leaders, Pope Francis," Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy for Discovery, Inc., said in a statement. "We are thrilled to work with a powerful storyteller like Evgeny on this important project, which is emblematic of our ability to expand our documentary programming aperture on discovery+ to serve subscribers around the world with a diverse and growing slate of originals."

Added Afineevsky: "I am tremendously honored that Pope Francis allowed me to witness and create this inspirational monument dedicated to the most pressing issues facing humanity today. His commitment to people around the world will lead us out of this difficult historical moment and into a brighter future. He is a beacon of light in this world for many and strives every day to enlighten people on how to build a bridge to a better tomorrow. It is extremely exciting to partner with discovery+ to bring his story to people around the world on the same day."

Francesco's producers, in addition to Afineevsky, are Den Tolmor, Eric Esrailian and Teri Schwartz. Its executive producers are Ted Hope, Colleen Camp, Mark Monroe, Tomas Srovnal, Michelle Bertan Neve, Svetlana Chistyakova, Bonnie Abaunza, Bohdan Batruch, Regina K. Scully, Elba Luis Lugo, Geralyn White Dreyfous and Robert Fyvolent. It is a production of Afineevsky-Tolmor Productions with the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and PFX - Postproduction and Visual Effects Studio, in association with Diamond Docs.