By Tim Drake
ARLINGTON, Texas — The first feature-length theatrical motion picture on the life of St. Augustine has its official U.S. premiere in Texas next week. The film’s distributor, Ignatius Press, hopes to bring it to screens across the country using a hosted-screening program.
The official premiere of Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine takes place Aug. 29 at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, which is being held in Arlington, Texas. Many Catholic leaders and retailers will have an opportunity to see the film there for the first time.
Restless Heart, originally titled St. Augustine, was directed by award-winning Canadian director Christian Duguay and was co-produced by Italian, German and Polish production companies. It originally aired as a two-part television program in Italy in 2009.
American Catholic publisher Ignatius Press has repackaged the film and will not only be distributing the DVD in North America, but has also developed a program that allows parishes, organizations and individuals to bring the film to theaters in their locale.
For the past few years, Ignatius Press has worked with European production companies to secure North American licenses to release saint films on DVD. When the company heard that a film was being made about St. Augustine, it expressed interest in obtaining the North American rights.
“We are thrilled to bring Restless Heart to the big screen,” said Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press. “St. Augustine is one of the first doctors of the Church. His story is inspiring and compelling, and his writings are among the most respected in the world, even today.”
“We’re doing this on a bigger level because we understand the importance of films for impacting the culture in modern society and the importance of evangelizing through the film medium,” said Anthony Ryan, director of marketing with Ignatius Press. “We decided that if we were ever going to try to get these films in theaters, this was the perfect movie to do it with.”
The film draws largely from the Confessions of St. Augustine to tell his story. Unlike many saint films, it does not shy away from telling about his less-than-saintly early life and his conflicts with his mother, St. Monica.
Born in North Africa, St. Augustine led a hedonistic lifestyle and ignored the advice of his Christian mother before his conversion and baptism in Milan, Italy, at the age of 33. His Confessions and the City of God are two of the Church’s great spiritual classics. Augustine was declared one of the first doctors of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1295.
The film has drawn praise from many who have seen it.
“This film brings the words of the Confessions to life by enabling us to more fully understand the relationships and the culture that shaped Augustine and to better grasp his talents and ambitions, sins and struggles and, ultimately, his sanctity,” said Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago. “Restless Heart draws us to appreciate the magnitude and the totality of Augustine’s conversion of mind and heart.”
“As the life and times of this saint for all ages are beautifully re-created before our eyes, we understand better than ever the danger of being ‘in love with love,’ the insatiable void of a life defined by secular pursuits,” said Bishop Felipe Estévez of St. Augustine, Fla. “Appealing to the restless heart in each of us, this film of faith and hope is sure to become a spiritual classic.”
It has even received praise from Pope Benedict XVI. Read more.