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Rome Reports

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How to forgive: Stories of terrorists, murderers, broken marriages who forgave


“The Greatest Gift” is a new movie directed by Juan Manuel Cotelo. To film, he traveled to Spain, France, Ireland, Colombia, Mexico and Rwanda to capture how people, from different walks of life, managed to forgive their enemies. 

The movie mixes comedy and drama to examine such difficult real life stories of forgiveness.

Director Juan Manuel Cotelo was motivated to make this film after spending time with prisoners in Colombia. He witnessed the great reconciliation between them and their victims.

JUAN MANUEL COTELO
Director of “The Greatest Gift”
“It is amazing to see people who were enemies just a short time before and now friends. It is such a spectacle, full of emotion and beauty, to see the end of people being enemies. The motivation to do a film was so clear so that the whole world can participate in this celebration.”

He wanted to give real-life examples that despite under seemingly impossible conditions, forgiveness is always possible.

JUAN MANUEL COTELO
Director of “The Greatest Gift”
“It is too late to forgive, I have done so much evil. No! After 'The Greatest Gift' you see it is never too soon or late to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.”

The movie recounts stories of an IRA bomber to a man who killed a mother's sons during genocide; to a reunited marriage that at first seemed irreparable. These are just a small sample of some people who found peace.

According to Juan Manuel, Pope Francis' gestures and words on forgiveness had an indirect influence on the making of this documentary.

JUAN MANUEL COTELO
Director of “The Greatest Gift”
“He says for example, 'There are three phrases for the family to say: 'I'm sorry,' 'thank you' and 'may I.' He visits the prisoners in jail and leaves them with hope.'”

The film was produced by the filmmakers of “Mary's Land.” They hope this new film will invite more people to celebrate the great gift of forgiveness, and free themselves from the divisions hatred produces.