Show at The FeckenOdeon on 29th November, 2014
In the 1920’s, religious orders established what were called Mother and Baby Homes on the premises of lands and buildings donated to the Church. These facilities housed girls and women who had become pregnant out of wedlock and their children. Countless women were separated from their sons and daughters, who were often given up for adoption against their will. This film is the true story of one of the mothers.
There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church did Philomena Lee a great wrong when it allowed nuns to sell her son for adoption in America. It’s perhaps in the spirit of that Church’s creed of the forgiveness of sins that Philomena felt that meeting the Pope after this film’s release somehow made things a bit better. "I felt such a sense of relief for the guilt I carried and that I still carry a little bit today," she said after the audience," Those nuns would be so jealous of me now." The encounter came about through Mrs Lee establishing the Philomena Project, which lobbies for open access to adoption records. It happened less than a day after a Vatican spokesperson said: "The Holy Father does not see films, and will most certainly not be seeing this one.” The very next day it became clear that, not only had Pope Francis seen the film, but it was he who had requested an audience with Philomena.
Martin Sixsmith, who wrote Philomena’s story, as well as being a journalist, is an authority on Russian poetry and art. He has now returned to things Russian and is busy making documentaries about Mr Putin. He and Philomena remain friends and attended the glamorous movie premiere together - something those nuns might also have been jealous of. Both Judi Dench and Steve Coogan befriended Philomena and Mr Coogan accompanied her on her visit to Rome.