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Pope Francis will be the first pope to star in a feature film

James Vincent

Pope Francis is set to become the first pope to star in a feature film, playing himself in the forthcoming movie Beyond the Sun. Despite the name, this isn't a sci-fi epic, but a religious movie based on the gospels. According to Variety, the film will be a "family adventure," with Pope Francis asking filmmakers to create a movie communicating Jesus' message to children. All profits from the film will be donated to children's charities in Argentina — the Pope's home country.

"This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message."

The films is being financed and produced by Ambi Pictures, with co-founder Andrea Iervolino saying in a statement: "Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words. This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope."

And while Pope Francis may be the first actual pope to appear in a film, he'll be following a long and varied tradition of on-screen popery. These include serious, solemn fare, such 2009's Pope Joan (about the legendary female pope of the same name), and the 1983 film The Scarlet and The Black about the Nazi occupation of Rome. But also more comedic takes, such as 2011's We Have A Pope, a King's Speech-esque comedy about a reluctant pope, and 1991's The Pope Must Die, which stars Robbie Coltrane (aka Hagrid) as the accidentally-elected Pope David I taking on the mafia. Pope Francis will presumably play things a little straighter.

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