Pope Francis, April 21, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
A book by Pope Francis about the perspectives of the elderly is the basis for a forthcoming series by Netflix, and the pope is set to participate.
“Sharing the Wisdom of Time” was published in English and Italian in 2018. The book consists of interviews with older people from around the world and includes the responses of Pope Francis to 31 of the testimonies, as relayed in conversations with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit and the editor of “La Civilta Cattolica.”
The four-episode series is not yet named. It will include an exclusive interview with Pope Francis. It will continue his call to recognize elders as sources of wisdom and memory. The elders interviewed in the book come from a variety of countries, religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. They will be interviewed by young filmmakers living in their own countries, and the pope will give commentary, according to Loyola Press, an apostolate of the Jesuits’ Midwest province.
The anti-poverty nonprofit Unbound, which collaborated with Loyola Press on the book, will help with the documentary project. The Italian company Stand By Me Productions is the producer of the documentary series, planned to be released globally on Netflix in 2021.
At the 23 October 2018 presentation of the book “Sharing the Wisdom of Time,” Pope Francis spoke about the wisdom and knowledge of the faith older people can share with the young.
“One of the virtues of grandparents is that they have seen many things in their lives,” the pope said. He advised grandparents to have “a lot of love, a lot of tenderness… and prayers” for the young people in their lives who have left the faith.
“The faith is transmitted always in dialect. The dialect of the home, the dialect of friendship,” he said.
The filmmakers for the project will work under Fernando Meirelles, the Brazilian director of the 2019 Netflix production The Two Popes. That movie centred on several imagined meetings between Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the period between the 2005 conclave which elected Benedict and the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis. Critics said the movie did not accurately represent Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, and instead reflects an ideological approach to the two men.
Meirelles is best known for co-directing “City of God,” the 2002 film based in a favela of Rio de Janeiro. He has said he is Catholic but stopped attending Mass as a child.
Netflix recently came under fire for Cuties, a French-produced film about a dance troupe that drew sustained criticism for its sexualized portrayal of minors when the movie launched on the streaming service in September 2020. The film contrasts the conservative Muslim immigrant culture in which the lead character is raised to the libertine culture of secular France.
The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why also drew criticism from mental health professionals for its presentation of teen suicide as an act of revenge and a power play. Some voiced concerns its debut in early 2017 may have contributed to a measurable spike in teen male suicide.