Cannes 2017: Real-life Saints of ‘Fatima’ make cinematic debut

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CANNES (May 18, 2017) – Arclight Films is thrilled to announce the Cannes World Market Premiere of the new drama Fatima, starring screen legend Harvey Keitel (The Irishman, Youth, Reservoir Dogs), and multiple award-winning actress Sonia Braga (Aquarius, The Milagro Beanfield War, Kiss of the Spider Woman). The film is currently in pre-production and will be directed by Marco Pontecorvo (Pa-Ra-Da, Partly Cloudy with Sun, Director of Photography for Letters to Juliet, Firewall). Two of the three young children, Jacinta and Francisco, were made saints just last week by Pope Francis.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the incredible team behind Fatima including the remarkably talented Harvey Keitel and Sonia Braga.” Said Gary Hamilton, Managing Director of Arclight Films. “Cannes is the perfect place to introduce buyers to this heartfelt and timely film, whose main characters were just this week canonized by the Pope, and that has an impressive, built-in audience around the world. Fatima is a highly commercially viable film that remains true to its miraculous message. The story of Fatima is what real-live legends are made of.”

Fatima, based on a true story, is a trial of faith and courage. Fatima, the movie, dramatizes the incredible adventure of three children who have experienced the supernatural, and accepted their quest to bring a message of peace to the world.

The children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, along with an older cousin, Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, told skeptical elders that they witnessed six apparitions of the Virgin between May 13, 1917, and Oct. 13, 1917, when Jacinta was 7, Francisco was 9 and Lúcia was 10, according to the Vatican. After the Roman Catholic Church validated the children’s visions, it turned Fátima into Portugal’s main pilgrimage site. The shrine is nowadays visited by more than five million people a year. Traditionally, pilgrims walk at least part of the stretch to Fátima.

Some then cross the esplanade on their knees, sometimes crawling, to reach the Chapel of the Apparitions. Lara Saavedra, 28, a nun and theology student, said she had walked about 13 miles to Fátima early on Friday and then spent the night on the esplanade, getting ready for Saturday’s morning Mass. The sanctuary is home to two basilicas, but its most important feature is the much smaller Chapel of the Apparitions, which stands where the Virgin is said to have appeared to the children in 1917, on the side of the esplanade.

Fátima is one of several important Catholic sanctuaries, but “it’s different to others because this is the place of the mother of God,” said Carlos Osoro Sierra, the archbishop of Madrid, in a recent New York Times article.

“It’s also different because the Virgin appeared at a moment of great difficulties, when the world needed reconciliation,” he added, in reference to World War I. “This message of conciliation certainly
remains very relevant today.”

The younger children died in the 1918-19 European influenza pandemic. Their cousin, Lúcia, whose beatification process began in 2008, died in 2005 at age 97. The Virgin is said to have confided three secrets to the children, which were not written down until 1941, when Lúcia started writing her memoirs. The first two secrets were interpreted as foretelling a world war and the dangers of Soviet Communism. The third secret was long kept a mystery, but the sanctuary’s importance grew after Pope John Paul II credited the Virgin of Fátima with saving his life when Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman, tried to kill him on May 13, 1981, the anniversary of the first vision. The bullet that struck the pope was later placed alongside diamonds in the golden crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima. John Paul visited Fátima three times and beatified the siblings in 2000. The Vatican then interpreted the third and final secret as a prediction of the failed assassination.

The lead producers will be James T. Volk, Chairman and Founder of Origin Entertainment, Frida Torresblanco of Braven Films, Dick Lyles, CEO of Origin Entertainment, Rose Ganguzza of Rose Pictures and Natasha Howes.

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