Pope Francis galvanizes action on climate and biodiversity in new documentary

Pope Francis galvanizes action on climate and biodiversity in new documentary

A new feature documentary film on humanity’s power to stop the ecological crisis was released at a global premiere in Vatican City. Entitled The Letter, the film tells the story of diverse frontline leaders’ journeys to Rome to discuss the encyclical Laudato Si’ with Pope Francis.

The film is produced by Oscar-winning producers Off the Fence (My Octopus Teacher). Featuring protagonists from the Brazilian Amazon, Senegal, India, and the US, the film explores issues including Indigenous rights, climate migration, and youth leadership in the context of action on climate and nature. The film features an exclusive dialogue with Pope Francis and previously unseen footage of his installation as pope.

Dr. Greg Asner, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and co-author of the Spectranomics technology to create 3D maps of biodiversity, said, 

Film premiere events in the Vatican included the protagonists and filmmakers, the Vatican’s top official on ecological issues, and the secretary general of the IPCC, along with ambassadors and representatives of civil society.

The film is presented by YouTube Originals. This is the first time that a film with a Pope will be available free of charge through a streaming service.

The premiere comes on the same day as the Holy See’s official entry into the landmark Paris agreement on climate change. Vatican officials hosted ambassadors to the Holy See at both the premiere and a high-level side event about the Paris Agreement, building pressure on governments for more climate action.

These efforts represent the Catholic Church’s increasingly ambitious and urgent engagement on ecological issues. A global campaign of community screenings, high-level events, and leadership from partner organizations in the global North and the global South is anticipated over the next months, galvanizing new pressure on decision-makers at the UN’s COP27 climate summit and COP15 nature summit.

This urgency aligns with alarms from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate science body that informs the Paris agreement and COP27. In remarks about the film, the IPCC Chair attending the Vatican events, Dr. Hoesung Lee, said, “The scientific community welcomes the opportunity to engage with artists and the people of faith.”

Watch The Letter
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