As everyone looks back at the past decade, Fernando Meirelles must surely recognize he’s had quite a journey the past 10 years. It kicked off with the disappointing drama “360” in 2011, segued to the unique pressure of directing the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and has now wrapped up with the critical crowd pleaser, “The Two Popes.” Sitting down to talk to the Four Quandrant podcast a few weeks ago, Meirelles admitted the success of the film at festivals (it’s won five audience awards) surprised him. He notes, “I thought it was for a niche, but it’s for everyone.”
“The Two Popes” chronicles the historical transfer of the Papacy from Pope Benedict XVI (played by Anthony Hopkins) to the current Pope, Francis (Jonathan Pryce) in 2013. In real life, the men had three separate meetings during the process and screenwriter Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour,” “The Theory of Everything”) imagines what those conversations consisted of for the context of the film. In this era of divided consituencies around the world, it shows how two very different men can find common ground.
The Brazillian native was raised Catholic, but sayd he was attracted to the project because of Francis’ politics more than his own spiritual beliefs.
“In this wave of populism where everyone wants to build walls, he’s the one trying to build bridges between religions and different parts of societies,” Meirelles says. “I think it’s a very wide and modern vision.”
And for those curious, despite the pressure of capturing such unique public figures “nothing compares” to the pressure of pulling off your nation’s Opening Olympic Ceremony.
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