Martin Scorsese's newest Film, the historical religious epic 'Silence', will hold a special advanced screening at the Vatican in Rome on Nov 29, roughly a month ahead of its December release in the US. There has been no confirmation as to whether Pope Francis will be in attendance. The film, having been in and out of development for nearly three decades, stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Ciaran Hinds and Tadanobou Asano, who are not expected to attend the premiere either.

What is Scorsese's new film?

'Silence', based on the Japanese novel by Shusaku Endo, centers on two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Garfield and Driver) who travel through Japan, teaching about Christianity to the natives, while dealing with prejudice and persecution, including brutal torture, while tracking down their mentor (Neeson).

The film is co-written by Jay Cocks (The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York) and produced by Irwin Winkler, Vittoroio Cecchi Gori, Barbara De Fina, Randall Emmett and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

The project dates back to the 1980s, when Scorsese had expressed interest in adapting the story, and was intended to be made after his 1997 Dalai Lama biopic, 'Kundun', but was delayed a number of times. In 2012, Cecchi Gori Pictures sued Scorsese for breach of contract, but this was later settled in January 2014.

Scorsese not the first to get Vatican premiere

The Roman Catholic Church has endorsed and held screenings for films many times over the decades. In 2003, Pope John Paul II endorsed Mel Gibson’s controversial 'The Passion of the Christ', after a private screening.

Then, in 2006, Catherine Hardwicke's 'The Nativity Story' premiered in the Paul VI Hall (approx. 7,000 seats), next to St. Peter’s Basilica. Hardwicke and the film’s cast were there, as were several senior cardinals (Pope Benedict XVI, however, was not).

As recent as 2013, Angelina Jolie's war drama 'Unbroken' had a post release screening at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Sciences, and though Pope Francis did not attend the screening, he did speak with Jolie after the event.