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Report From Europe by Darius KADIVAR


The Nativity Story Cast and Crew Get Vatican Premier and Pope’s Approval



Elisabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo)
© New Line Cinema

Some 7,000 people crowded up on Sunday, November 26th at the benefit screening of "The Nativity Story" in Paul VI Hall, the auditorium usually used for audiences with pilgrims, although Pope Benedict XVI was not present.

"I think the pope is pretty busy," said director Catherine Hardwicke, referring to the Pope’s recent  trip to Turkey.

"The Nativity Story," which opens in the United States and Europe in time for the Christmas holidays on Dec. 1, describes Mary's pregnancy and the trip she and Joseph undertake to Bethlehem, the town of Jesus' birth. It explores Mary's reaction - of fear, doubt and ultimately faith - to what is happening to her.

Mary is played by Australian-born Keisha Castle-Hughes, of "Whale Rider" fame, who was not present at the premiere. Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress in "House of Sand and Fog," stars as Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Oscar Isaac portrays Joseph. Another Iranian Shaun Toub noticed in Paul Haggis’ Oscar Winning film Crash stars as Joachim and Hiam Abbass (Munich) stars as Anna.

The 102-minute film was shot between Morocco and Matera, a town in southern Italy where Mel Gibson shot his controversial biblical epic "The Passion of the Christ."

Hardwicke praised "The Passion," but said she tried to do a more uniting film than Gibson's blockbuster about the last hours of Jesus Christ.

Joseph (Oscar Isaac), Mary ( Keisha Castle-Hughes) and
Baby Jesus
© New Line Cinema

Before the screening, Archbishop John Foley, a U.S. prelate who heads the Vatican's social communications office, praised what he called a dialogue between faith and culture.

"Cinema, a powerful means of communication, once again carries a universal message," he told the audience.

Despite the Vatican's stamp of approval, Hardwicke said her movie sought to appeal not just to religious audiences.

"We hope that people might relate to the relationship in the film, Mary and Joseph, and how their love grows and gets stronger as each one of them has challenges," she said.

Elisabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and
(Stanley Townsend)  © New Line Cinema

Producers said earlier this month that proceeds from the event would go toward the construction of a school in a village that is some 25 miles from Nazareth, the town of Jesus' childhood.

The village, Mughar, whose population includes Christians and Muslims, was one of the Israeli towns hit by rockets fired by Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas over the summer.

"The Nativity Story" was produced by New Line Cinema, the company that made "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Iranian Shaun Toub Stars as
Joachim and Palestinian-Israeli actress
Hiam Abbass (Munich) stars as
Anna © New Line Cinema

2006 has been a particularly fulfilling year for our International expat Star and 2003 Oscar Nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo whose performances in X-Men III and The Lake House opposite some of Hollywood’s Bankable and Critically Acclaimed Stars has made the admiration of her Iranian colleagues and Diaspora community. It is also a happy Irony to see two Iranian and Muslim affiliated actors, Aghdashloo and Toub portray Biblical Christian Icons in an era where Iranian nationals are so often typecast as Middle Eastern terrorists.

Keep up the good Job Shohreh Jan, same thing for you Shaun for our prayers are with you!!


Author’s Notes :


Official Website for The Nativity Story :

Recommended Reading : GETTING BIBLICAL: Shohreh Aghdashloo's New Epic Drama by DK

Recommended Reading : ShockWave Aghdashloo’s Dina Araz hits France by DK



About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian and Media Consultant.


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