Two New Movies About Jesuits

The first is a joint production from the Philippines and Spain.  It is on the founder of the Society of Jesus.  The dialogue is in English and it looks pretty cool . . .

The second is a Scorsese flick based on the book "Silence."  Here's the description . . . 

Martin Scorsese’s new film does not have a release date yet but it is expected at the end of 2016. This new film from the filmmaking legend sounds just as unconventional as it does intriguing. It stars Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield as two Jesuit Priests who travel to 17th century Japan to spread the teachings of christianity and seek out their mentor played by Liam Neeson.

No trailer has been released but here's a screen shot:

Scorsese also wrote an essay on it:

Ahead of the film’s release, earlier this year Approaching Silence was published (pick it up here), a novel which features a collection of essays looking back at the real-life background of Endô’s work. Perhaps most intriguing to our audience, it also features an afterword from Scorsese in which he describes bringing to life what “can’t be seen or described or named.” He references the “astonishing sensorial experience” of 2001: A Space Odyssey and in the “monumental” documentary Shoah, “we can’t know the horrors of the death camps, we can only conjure them.” Relating this feeling to Silence, he had this to say:
Endô’s novel confronts the mystery of Christian faith, and by extension the mystery of faith itself. Rodrigues learns, one painful step at a time, that God’s love is more mysterious than he knows, that He leaves much more to the ways of men than we realize, and that He is always present … even in His silence. What role am I playing, wonders Rodrigues? Why am I being kept alive? When will my martyrdom arrive? Of course, it doesn’t. Which means that he will be playing a role that is very different from the one he expected to play. He will not be following in the footsteps of Jesus. He will be taking a less revered path, and therefore playing a very different role. This is the most painful realization of all.
How do I translate the last pages of the novel, as abstract as Moby-Dick or The Idiot, into images and actions? So how do I film these interior sensations and realizations and emotions? How do I make the mystery of faith, and the ways of God, cinematically present? The answer is in making the movie — going to Taiwan, working with the actors and the cameraman and the production designer, shooting, and then putting it together in the editing room, adding a frame here and taking one out there, mixing the sound, timing the color, and deciding that it’s finished. But on another level, that answer lies within the cinema itself, and its way of pointing us toward what we cannot see.

The story of the Jesuits in Japan is fascinating.  They made converts whose descendants apparently still practice a localized form of Catholicism today, though its kept hidden.  The Guardian has a fantastic article on the Jesuit the film is about and the work he did in Japan.

At low tide, Shigetsugu Kawakami can just about make out the “forbidden” rock from his home overlooking the beach in Neshiko, a tiny village on Hirado island in southern Japan.
According to verbal testimony, at least 70 villagers were taken there and beheaded in the early 17th century. Their crime had been to convert to Christianity. “When we were children, the adults told us that if we climbed on to the rock the village would be cursed,” said Kawakami.
Today, “ascension rock” is a permanent reminder of the atrocities of almost four centuries ago. But the martyrdom of Japan’s “hidden” Christians is in danger of being forgotten.
Tens of thousands of Japanese Christians were executed, tortured and persecuted after the Tokugawa shogunate banned the religion in the early 1600s. With a wary eye on Spanish rule in the Philippines, the authorities feared Japan could be the next country targeted by European powers that used Christian teachings as a catalyst for colonial rule.
The ban left Japan’s 750,000 converts with a choice: renounce their religion or continue to practise their faith in secret, in the knowledge that discovery would almost certainly mean death.
Discussion of Japan’s Christian heritage has largely been absent from public life since the mid-1960s, when Shusaku Endo explored the martyrdom of early converts in his critically acclaimed novel Silence.
Now, Martin Scorsese hopes to ensure their story will not be forgotten with a film based on Endo’s novel that is due for release next year.
. . . 
While no official records are kept of the number of modern-day kakure kirishitan (hidden Christians), local experts say perhaps only a few dozen people still consider themselves believers.
Once its saviour, clandestine worship has contributed to a sharp decline in the number of believers. Combined with dwindling, ageing populations on the islands where it once flourished, believers fear their crypto-Christian tradition is at risk of dying out.
Kawakami, 64, is one of the few hidden Christians who is happy to talk publicly about his faith. “We don’t practise our faith in public because we are effectively still in hiding,” he said. “We usually remain quiet and never ‘out’ ourselves as Christians by appearing on TV or giving interviews. We don’t hold special ceremonies or pray in public. In fact, we don’t do anything that would risk giving ourselves away.”
Remote southern islands such as Hirado proved fertile ground for Catholicism after St Francis Xavier and other missionaries introduced it to Japan in 1549. After a nationwide ban was enforced in the early 1600s, converts devised ingenious ways to keep their faith alive.
They gathered in private homes to conduct religious ceremonies, and figurines of the Virgin Mary were altered to resemble the Buddha or Japanese dolls. To the uneducated ear, their prayers sounded like Buddhist sutras, even though they contained a mixture of Latin, Portuguese and obscure Japanese dialects. Scripture was passed on orally, since keeping bibles was considered too great a risk. None wore crosses or other religious accoutrements.
The need for secrecy during the 250 years that Christianity was banned meant the version of the religion observed by Kawakami’s ancestors bore little resemblance to its mainstream Catholic origins. Instead, early Japanese Christians incorporated elements of Buddhism and Shinto into their faith until it became a polytheistic creed of its own.
“In many ways it was a very Japanese version of Christianity,” said Shigeo Nakazono, curator of the Shima no Yakata museum on Ikitsuki, an island near Hirado.
But even this localised form of Christianity met with fierce opposition from the Shogunate authorities, who devised a singularly cruel test of loyalty to expose converts. Suspects were ordered to prove they were not Christians by trampling on fumie – images of Christ or the Virgin Mary carved from stone or wood – or face being hanged upside down over a pit and slowly bled to death.
When the Meiji government lifted the ban in 1873, an estimated 30,000 secret Christians came out of hiding. Now, Christians of all denominations make up less than 1% of Japan’s population of 128 million.
“Japan was coming under the influence of European industry and technology, and that meant that old objections to Christianity weakened,” Nakazono said.
Nakazono wondered whether Scorsese’s film would stay true to Endo’s novel, which some have criticised for being preoccupied with martyrdom. “If all hidden Christians had been martyrs, there would have been none left,” he said. “But there were enough people willing to stamp on the fumie, denounce Christianity and then beg God for forgiveness.”
At Neshiko beach, ascension rock – physical proof that there were those who refused to abandon their faith – is half submerged by the incoming tide. Even today, centuries after the last execution, locals remove their shoes before setting foot on the beach’s fine white sand as a sign of respect.
Like the rituals of the kakure kirishitan, the memories of the executed converts have been preserved by word of mouth – a tradition that gives Kawakami hope that their courage, and beliefs, will not be forgotten.
“We feel we have a duty to pass it on to future generations,” he said. “This is something our ancestors risked their lives to tell us.”

Scorsese grew up a Catholic in New York City's "Little Italy" and at one time considered the priesthood himself.  In case you were wondering, he still goes to Church.

For more on how his Catholic conscious inspires his movie, see this interview here and this essay in the the Society of Jesus' magazine America here.