.- A new film about a 20th-century saint is being directed by a self-described agnostic and produced by a devout Catholic.
âI thought it would be a fantastic challenge to give 40 million dollars to a Hollywood director who is agnostic and leftist to tell a story about a Catholic saint,â said Ignacio GÃ³mez-Sancha, the producer behind the upcoming film, âThere Be Dragons.â
âThere Be Dragonsâ tells the story of St. JosemarÃa EscrivÃ¡, founder of the Catholic organization Opus Dei (Latin for âWork of Godâ).
GÃ³mez-Sancha is producing the movie with director Roland JoffÃ©, who calls himself a âwobbly atheist.â
In the 1980s, JoffÃ©'s films, âThe Missionâ and âThe Killing Fieldsâ earned him Academy Award nominations for best director.
âThe Mission,â which starred Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons as Jesuits in 18th-century Latin America, was later named by the Vatican as one of 45 âgreat filmsâ about religion.
In a recent interview with CNA, GÃ³mez-Sancha said, âThe reason why I decided to leave my life behind and dedicate two years of my life to this project is basically that ... I fell in love with the project and with Roland's idea on JosemarÃa.â
GÃ³mez-Sancha, who is a member of Opus Dei, described how JoffÃ© came to the project. The London-born director became fascinated with the Spanish saint in the wake of the bestselling book, âThe Da Vinci Code,â which was later made into a movie.
âThe Da Vinci Codeâ presents a lurid vision of Opus Dei as a militant secret society in the Church.
Controversy over the book and movie led JoffÃ© to read the writings of St. JosemarÃa EscrivÃ¡. And though an agnostic, JoffÃ© was captivated by the saintâs vision of heroic Christian faith and holiness.
After seeing the screenplay JoffÃ© wrote, GÃ³mez-Sancha decided to give the director a chance. He gathered together investors to create a film fund and raised money for the project.
He calls his efforts an expression of his faith. âIt is very important to do movies in a profitable way with a good message,â he said.
The story told in âThere Be Dragonsâ is set during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. However, GÃ³mez-Sancha said that âthe dramatic center of the movie is not actually the war, but what (are) called the 'dragons'.â
âThe dragons,â he explained, âare anything that makes you suffer, the situations that life puts you in,â such as guilt, hatred, jealousy and betrayal.
GÃ³mez-Sancha stressed the importance of having âan agnostic like Rolandâ telling a story with âa message that is absolutely universal.â
âThe Spanish Civil War split families apart, split the society totally, and we are in deep need for an act of reconciliation,â he said.
The film, he added, will show people âwhat a priest can be; what priesthood can be for society, in a moment where priesthood, in a way, is under scrutiny.â
âThere Be Dragonsâ is being filmed in Argentina. It will be released internationally in Spring 2011.