The Letter: A Message for the Earth

Original title or aka: The Letter: Laudato Si' Film

Director: Nicolas Brown
Starring: Pope Francis, Arouna Kande, Ridhima Pandey, Chief Cacique Odair ‘Dada’ Borari, Greg Asner, Robin Martin
Distributor: YouTube
Runtime: 82 mins. Reviewed in Dec 2022
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: None

YouTube link

Environmental activists from Senegal, India, the Amazon and Hawaii, representing refugees, the environment, youth and wildlife, are invited to meet Pope Francis to discuss and promote his encyclical Laudato Si’.

In 2015, Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter on ecology and the environment. The significant thing was that it was addressed to readers beyond the church, to people of all faiths, secular and none. (At the opening of the film, we can hear some dissenting voices, that the Pope should not be political, that he was doing a disservice to theology.)

How to communicate, publicise, this letter and its message? The answer is a film on Youtube – stories, visuals, and Pope Francis himself.

The Letter is a film for all audiences, telling the story of Francis and his writing Laudato Si, but the writer-director, Nicolas Brown (noting that he is agnostic but was impressed by Francis and his encyclical) takes his audience into a meeting, what might seem an ordinary day for the Pope, but he has filmed it to make this day and the meeting readily available for the whole world.

The occasion is an encounter with Pope Francis with chosen representatives coming to the Vatican to discuss environmental issues and commitments.

The film introduces us to the representatives – Arouna Kande from Senegal, Ridhima Pandey from India, Chief Cacique Odair ‘Dada’ Borari from Amazon, Greg Asner and Robin Martin from Hawaii. They tell the audience their stories and commitment to the environment and their homelands. We see letters from Rome, written, posted, stamped, received – and the surprise of each of them to get a letter from the Vatican. The group members represent refugees, environment, youth, wildlife. We see lives and issues through stories and images.

Kande thinks of leaving Senegal, a refugee, but, as we see, flimsy boats, full, capsizing and refugees drowning. He decides to be active in his home country. Pandey is 13, confident, outspoken. In the Amazon, the chief explains the destruction of the forests and the dire consequences. (He is striking in his large feathered headgear, which he wears around Rome and for the papal meeting). Greg and Robin work in Hawaii with technology.

We sit in on the meeting with Francis (close-ups to see his emotional facial expressions, speaking in Spanish to express himself personally). He bonds with the delegates as they speak to him, as they commit themselves to the causes.

We also join the group as they visit Assisi, join in the spirit of Francis, suddenly interrupted as Kande receives text and video from Senegal, his friend’s school completely flooded and the children having nowhere to stay. Some comfort for him from the group who have now bonded as a family.

The Letter is accessible online for free. (An indication for a short Google clip appears at the end – worth having a look at, what the representatives have been doing since their meeting.) A film for all audiences.

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