You may have noticed that a film named NATIVITY is beginning to appear in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Christianity Today, and this week’s Time. It stars Whale Rider’s Kiesha Castle-Hughes as Mary and Oscar Issacs as Joseph, with Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen; Lords of Dogtown) directing. Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) is Elizabeth and Ciaran Hinds is King Herod. Mike Rich, who wrote Finding Forrester and The Rookie, penned the screenplay.
Whale Rider is one of my favorite films of all time, and when I learned that Kiesha was playing Mary, I thought, “This is perfect casting.” She's fifteen now and just the right age to play Mary.
NATIVITY is about the year before Jesus was born as lived by Mary, her family, friends, Joseph. It also reflects the religious and socio-political situation of the times. NATIVITY will be released world-wide on December 1, 2006 by New Line Cinema.
It was an honor and a privilege to be included in a group of journalists (television, print, and online) in May to go to Matera, Italy, (south of Bari) where much of the film was being shot. (The action has now moved to Morocco.) We had the opportunity while visiting the “set” (several acres big; they were shooting Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem the day we were there) to speak with the producers, Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, writer Mike Rich (and his lovely wife, Grace), Catherine Hardwicke, Kiesha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Issacs.
Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Pasolini’s Gospel According to St. Matthew, and Christ Stopped at Eboli (based on the novel by Carlo Levi) were all filmed in Matera as well.
My feature article on NATIVITY will appear in St. Anthony Messenger (www.americancatholic.org) later this year, but I wanted you to know that this film is one of the good ones. Visiting the re-created villages of Nazareth and Bethlehem was inspiring; the script is warm and inviting. I think that NATIVITY will become the Christmas classic we will want to see every year.
Here are some of my photos. Watch this space! More to come. The group picture was taken in the hotel. I am standing in the doorway of Mary's house in Nazareth. Matera is located in the "arch" of Italy's "boot". The other two pictures are of the production...