By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis met with the Italian film director, Senegalese actors and other crew members of a new film based on a true story of two young men’s treacherous journey from Dakar to Italy.

Titled “Io Capitano” (“Me Captain”), the film’s director, Matteo Garrone, won the Silver Lion award for best director, and its lead actor, Seydou Sarr, won the Marcello Mastroianni award for best young actor at the Venice Film Festival Sept. 9.

During a private audience at his Domus Sanctae Marthae residence Sept. 14, the pope met with: Garrone; Sarr; actor Moustapha Fall, who plays a fellow traveler; Mamadou Kouassi whose real-life story of his three-year ordeal trapped in Libya trying to reach Europe inspired the film; and other cast and crew members.

Pope Francis meets Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone, left, and Senegalese actors from a new film about immigration, “Io Capitano” (“Me Captain”), at the Vatican Sept. 14, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope watched a small clip of the film and listened to Sarr’s and Kouassi’s experiences, Garrone told Vatican News Sept. 14.

“With great generosity, the pope wanted to meet with us to support the work we did,” Garrone said.

He said he wanted the film to “give voice to those who have no voice and that is what the pope is always trying to do. He told us about his parents who were migrants and how he feels this problem is perhaps the most serious problem right now and about the importance of stirring people’s consciences with this kind of work.”

Later, the Dicastery for Communication hosted a showing of the film in the Vatican’s small movie theater.

According to a Sept. 6 review in Variety, “All the craft elements of ‘Me Captain’ work toward the common goal of granting a distinguishing epic scale to a story that, in the real world, would merely be counted as a statistic, one of many composing an international crisis.”

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