Feature film from Oscar-winning producers offers unseen glimpses of Pope Francis’ personal story and creates pressure for global climate justice by highlighting unheard voices on the frontlines of the crisis.
A new feature documentary film on humanity’s power to stop the ecological crisis was released at a global premiere in Vatican City today. Entitled The Letter, the film tells the story of diverse frontline leaders’ journeys to Rome to discuss the encyclical Laudato Si’ with Pope Francis.
The film is produced by Oscar-winning producers Off the Fence (My Octopus Teacher). Featuring protagonists from the Brazilian Amazon, Senegal, India, and the U.S., the film explores issues including Indigenous rights, climate migration, and youth leadership in the context of action on climate and nature. The film features an exclusive dialogue with Pope Francis and previously unseen footage of his installation as pope.
Film premiere events in the Vatican included the protagonists and filmmakers, the Vatican’s top official on ecological issues, the secretary general of the IPCC, and ambassadors and representatives of civil society.
The film is presented by YouTube Originals. This is the first time a film with a Pope will be available free of charge through a streaming service.
The premiere comes on the same day as the Holy See’s official entry into the landmark Paris agreement on climate change. Vatican officials hosted ambassadors to the Holy See at the premiere and a high-level side event about the Paris Agreement, building pressure on governments for more climate action.
These efforts represent the Catholic Church’s increasingly ambitious and urgent engagement on ecological issues. Over the following months, a global campaign of community screenings, high-level events, and leadership from partner organizations in the global North and the global South is anticipated, galvanizing new pressure on decision-makers at the UN’s COP27 climate summit and COP15 nature summit.
This urgency aligns with alarms from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate science body that informs the Paris agreement and COP27. In remarks about the film, the IPCC Chair attending the Vatican events, Dr Hoesung Lee, said, “The scientific community welcomes the opportunity to engage with artists and the people of faith.”
Ridhima Pandey, a young climate activist and a protagonist of The Letter, said, “The adults must do better. And I’m not waiting for you to fix it. Trust me; my efforts have just begun.”
Nicolas Brown, director of The Letter, said, “Guided by the moral compass provided by Pope Francis, I expect we all might find a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to protecting our common home and having compassion for all living things, including each other.”
About the film
Produced by the Oscar-winning team Off the Fence (My Octopus Teacher) in collaboration with the Laudato Si’ Movement, the film was directed by Emmy-winning director Nicolas Brown.
The Letter was made in collaboration with the Dicastery for Communication and the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development.
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