All I ever knew of Saint Francis of Assisi was that he talked to animals, said filmmaker Wim Wenders this week, at a special screening of his latest film Pope Francis: A Man of his Word at the Whitby Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Trump Tower. The current pope is the first to call himself after the saint who lived 800 years ago, loved nature and the earth, and is said to have charmed a sultan of Egypt. If you think of the church only in terms of the gold threaded, bejeweled capes on view at the MET’s Costume Institute exhibition, you will find Pope Francis of another cloth.
The film ends with an original song by Patti Smith. Knowing her to be a spiritual person, Wenders asked her to write it. Turns out she had stayed in Assisi just prior to Francis’ becoming pope. Dining with the friars there, she had predicted the next pope would be named Francis. What would it take to make a change? Says Wenders, A moral revolution. This was a refreshing thought as the crowd, with filmmakers and friends Alex Gibney, Hal Willner, Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Kate Davis, and many more, made their way out of the screening room.