Interview with Oscar-nominated filmmaker, Evgeny Afineevsky, about his new film 'Francesco'

April 7, 2022

Evgeny Afineevsky was nominated for an Oscar (Best Documentary Feature) in 2015 for his film Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom. After witnessing the horrors of that revolution first hand, as well as war in Syria, Evgeny said he needed to film something 'hopeful' and 'positive'. Enter Pope Francis.

Initially refused access to Pope Francis by the Vatican, Evgeny went on to film His Holiness during the pandemic, during a time of political and economic turbulence. The camera captures human and important moments of Francis' papacy, including his addresses to an empty St Peter’s square during the darkest days of the pandemic, his work highlighting the human suffering caused by global warming, as well as his ongoing work to cleanse and heal the Church in light of the sexual abuse scandals.

Evgeny found the experience of meeting and filming the Pope both healing and restorative, particularly after his traumatic experiences filming in Syria and Ukraine. He says he found in the Pope a true exemplar of a compassionate humanist who, as a Jesuit, does not seek the limelight of the camera but instead seeks out the outcasts who are so often hidden from view.

This important film highlights the need for the whole of humanity to critically rethink our relationship with our environment and the planet, as well as to seek deeper cooperation between faiths to serve the common good.

Jesuits in Britain encourage Catholics and Christians to engage deeply with these questions and have recently set-up the Laudato Si Research Centre in Oxford to explore how faith can inform ecological concerns.

The Jesuit Refugee Service in Poland is also supporting refugees fleeing from the war in Ukraine. You can support this and other vital work through the British arm of the Jesuit Refugee Service here.

For those seeking a deeper engagement with their faith in light of the stark issues facing the modern world, the London Jesuit Centre offers courses and events to resource Catholics in the UK. If you are looking for a spiritual retreat, take a look at St Beuno's Jesuit Spirituality Centre.

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