Imagine a film about a priest that’s a box-office knock-out, a cinema success that outsells Harry Potter. Now imagine this priest is neither a Pope nor a celebrity nor a cause of scandal, but simply a good, ordinary diocesan priest. Fantasy? Nope. Simply fact.
In 2010, “La última cima” (The Last Summit) a documentary about a real-life priest, Father Pablo Domínguez Prieto, was screened in just 4 cinemas in Spain. Within less than a week, due to popular demand, it was being shown in 50 – and then it went global, being in demand in more than 100 countries.
It won a Goya – Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars – for best documentary, yet was made on a shoestring budget. More impressive than all of this were the conversions: people wrote in their droves to the film’s director, Juan Manuel Cotelo, to say they’d left the cinema in tears, that they’d had returned to Church after lengthy lapses, that they’d repaired failing marriages, baptised their children, or even sought the help of a priest to confess a past abortion.
Yet – proof that God can use anything – La última cima was sparked by a tiny trivial incident. Juan Manuel Cotelo had a friend who banged on and on about Father Pablo, how great he was, how Juan Manuel should really come and see him, and hear him give a talk. So much so that just to shut his friend up he agreed to come and see Father Pablo give a talk. At the end, Juan Manuel introduced himself and Father Pablo said: “If I can ever do anything at all to help you, let me know”. “How nice” thought Cotelo.
And little else, until 12 days later on the television news, he heard Father Pablo’s name again. He had died. At the age of 42, after an accident while climbing a mountain. Curious, Cotelo began to investigate further. He found that Father Pablo had said he’d die young, that he’d like to die on a mountain, and that 3,000 people turned up to his funeral…
The resulting film, a sensation, is stylish and provocative. The opening shot (which you can see here) features a cartoon-style sketch of a priest being crucified…
And as for Cotelo, that was just the beginning. As he travelled the world promoting the film, people began to approach him telling extraordinary conversion stories: a former boxer in Lourdes, a one-time model in Colombia, an ex-gay prostitute from Mexico… Juan Manuel’s latest film is Mary’s Land about conversions occurring through Our Lady.
Find out more at www.infinitomasuno.org.