The Making of Romero

"THERE WERE TIMES WHEN I THOUGHT OSCAR WAS ALIVE," said Bishop Ricardo Urioste at a special screening for San Salvador's bishops of a new film about Archbishop Oscar Romero. The movie that brought their slain colleague to life for Urioste, the vicar general of the diocese of San Salvador, is Paulist Pictures' new release Romero, which stars Raul Julia in a stunning portrait of the last three years of the martyr's life.

Romero is the first commercial Hollywood film developed by a church-based production company, but for those accustomed to the cut-corner world of religious filmmaking, it is a welcome change. Although the film was made for only $3.4 million -- peanuts by Hollywood standards -- it was supplemented by "$10 million of love," according to producer Father Ellwood Kieser, the Paulist priest who founded and directs Paulist Pictures. Almost everyone involved, Kieser said, worked for the union minimum as a "labor of love," including Julia, who accepted one-seventh of his usual salary for his starring role.

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