Italian director says film foresaw papal resignation

AFP, Wednesday 13 Feb 2013

Nanni Moretti talks about his uncanny foresight after Pope Benedict XVI announces he will step down, mirroring scene in his recent film

The Italian director of a film which tells the story of a pope who resigned spoke in an interview on Tuesday of his uncanny foresight after Pope Benedict XVI announced he will step down.

"Sometimes cinema can anticipate reality," award-winning filmmaker Nanni Moretti, whose latest movie "Habemus Papam" starring Michel Piccoli as the pope went on general release in 2011, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Moretti said the resignation in St Peter's Square that ends his film was a powerful image "as if a simple gesture, after all just a few steps back for a man, could bring down St Peter's basilica or even the Church itself".

"Even though it did not seem topical or believable, I told myself it was the story I wanted to tell. Not reality as it is but as it could be. And now here we are," said Moretti, who has also made a comedy about Silvio Berlusconi.

"Habemus Papam" talks about a papal nominee, Cardinal Melville, who suffers a panic attack when he is due to appear before a crowd in St Peter's Square immediately after his election by a secret conclave of cardinals.

The cardinals recruit a psychoanalyst played by Moretti to ease his depression but he fails and the pope-to-be announces he will not take the post.

"I wanted to tell the Story with a capital 'S' of a man who refuses to give precedence to his role, however sacred and powerful, over his human nature," he said, adding that he doubted that the pope had actually seen the film.

Moretti said his film had wanted to make a portrayal of a "more human" Vatican, as well as a "thoughtful" criticism of the Catholic Church.

He said he had taken special care over how to portray cardinals in the film as he wanted to show them "full of confusion, humanity and fear."

But he admitted that fiction could only go so far in portraying the Catholic Church -- "I don't really know what happens in a conclave".

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