Martin Scorsese's highly anticipated new film Silence will premiere at the Vatican, having its first public screening in front of an audience of several hundred Jesuits and invited guests.
The film opens Dec. 23 in New York and Los Angeles and nationwide in January. Based on the novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence follows two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) who are tortured and persecuted when they travel to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) and spread Christianity.
Scorsese will attend the Vatican screening, as he recently revealed in a New York Times profile. It is not known if Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, will attend the screening, but it is likely that Scorsese will have a chance to meet with the pontiff, either in a prearranged meeting or during the pope's weekly meetings with the public.
Although it is rare that the Pope attends an event like a film screening, Pope Francis has been much more open about public appearances. He is set to make his feature film debut in Beyond the Sun, the first time ever a Pope will appear in a narrative film. Beyond the Sun is a family adventure meant to tell the story of the Gospels in several tales.
The Vatican holds screenings for films with a topical concern for the Church. Last year, Angelina Jolie's spiritual film Unbroken played for Vatican members. And the Vatican commission to end child abuse held a private screening of Spotlight for its members in February.
The Pope Francis biopic Call Me Francis premiered at the Vatican last December to an audience of refugees and homeless, who were given a bag lunch at the screening.
In 2006, Catherine Hardwicke's The Nativity Story had its world premiere at the Vatican with cast in tow.
Pope Francis has rarely spoken publicly about film, but he is a fan of Italian neorealist cinema. He has said that one of his favorite films is Federico Fellini's La Strada, a story in which he draws parallels to the wandering life of his namesake St. Francis of Assisi.