Wednesday, March 14, 2007

National Film Retreat 2007


Theme: The City: A State of Mind and Sacred Space


Date: Friday, July 6 – Sunday, July 8, 2007

(The deadline for registration is June 25, 2007)



Location: Pauline Center for Media Studies

3908 Sepulveda Blvd

Culver City, CA90230


Please visit the web site for registration, accomodation, directions: National Film Retreat




Film Slate

Batman Begins


City Lights

In America


The National Film Retreat is a project of the Partnership for Spirituality and Film, Catholics in Media, and the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals



3:00 - 5:00 pm

ARRIVALS (check in at your motel)

5:00pm - 6:00

SUPPER at the retreat venue: Pauline Center for Media Studies (PCMS), 2nd floor, above the Pauline Book & Media Center

6:30 pm

GATHERING (prayer, introductions, etc.)


PRESENTATION: How to make a film retreat

Wine and Cheese Conversation


7:00 am

Mass (for those who wish to participate)

7:00am - 8:30

Continental Breakfast (at motel or at the PCMS)



Coffee break & Conversation
Free time for reflection & journaling

12:00 – 3:00

Lunch on the patio

Free time for rest, reflection, walk to the park, journaling, prayer, visit to the book store


Coffee break and (optional) screening of  CITY LIGHTS


Mass (the Sunday Liturgy -14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - for those who wish to participate)

5:30 - 6:30pm

SUPPER at the LOTUS CHINESE RESTAURANT (across the street; 2 min. walk)


Wine and Cheese Conversation


7:00 - 8:00am



Coffee break
Commissioning Service


LUNCH in the Sisters’ dining room AND DEPARTURES


Pope John Paul II: Based on the Powerful True Story CBS mini-series on DVD

This particular 180 minute film/miniseries version of the life of Pope John Paul II (played by Cary Elwes in his younger years and then by Jon Voight) was released on DVD only yesterday and it is a lavish production. It aired on CBS in 2005 (along with two other versions) and of the three, I like it the most.

The reason for this has nothing to do with the actual mini-series, but with Jon Voight whom I was privileged to meet at the press junket for Glory Road last year (he played Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp). As Mr. Voight entered the room, and before he even sat down, a radio journalist who was present (I think he was from Relevant Radio), asked him, "What was it like to play Pope John Paul II?" Voight, obviously moved, stood there for 6-7 minutes and told us his deepest feelings about the experience and was visibly moved. I wish I had a video of what he said, and how he looked, telling us. At the end, he spotted me, smiled, and said, "I was raised Catholic you know..." He was inspired by playing the role, he inspired us in that room, and his portrayal of the Pope is just as convincing.

The film (mini-series; 180 minutes) begins with the attempt on the Pope's life in May, 1981, in St. Peter's Square, and from there flashes back and forward. It was filmed on location in Poland, Rome, and the Vatican - with the Vatican's cooperation. I think Jon Voight especially, and Cary Elwes (Ben Gazara, James Cromwell, and Christopher Lee as well), were credible; they seem to have a sense of reverence for the roles they played and for Voight, awe. With makeup, and later the Pope's shaking hands, the physical resemblance is strong.

Voight was nominated for an Emmy for this role and the film was nominated for a Young Artist Award for "Best Family Television Movie or Special."

Here are links to "Behind the Scenes with Jon Voight":

Download URL:

Streaming URL:


Friday, March 9, 2007

Nativity Story Movie for Lent

The Nativity Story - Own the DVD March 20

As you can see, The Nativity Story is being released on DVD on March 20th. If you search the archives of my blog for December 2006 you'll find plenty of commentary and links on this lovely film.

I think The Nativity Story is a perfect Scriptural reflection for Lent as we consider the public life of Jesus and the events that led to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The characters who populate the Gospels asked: Who is this man, this Jesus of Nazareth? Where does he come from? Who were his parents? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

The Nativity Story answers all these quentions and more. I can visualize Mary in The Nativity Story (played by Keisha Castle-Hughes) becoming, growing into, thirty-three years later, the Mary (played by Maia Morgenstern) in The Passion of the Christ.

The Nativity Story is authentic, reverent, and perfect for those contemplative moments that will make this holy liturgical and spiritual season, rich and fruitful for the entire family.

If you have young children (for whom The Passion of the Christ would be too overwhelming due to its intense violence), The Nativity Story is a relevant and accessible way to show them the very beginnings, through the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke, of the Way of the Cross. If we think of the entire liturgical year as the timeline narrative of Jesus' life on earth through the scripture readings of the common lectionary (the liurgical year compresses Jesus' life in ways that are similar to a film that uses two-hours), then The Nativity Story is the prequel because it begins in the year leading up to Jesus' birth. There are visual hints and dialogue throughout the film that make it very easy for catechists, homilists, and parents to connect the beginning of Jesus' life on earth with the events and meaning of Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

You may also want to obtain a copy of The Nativity Story: A Film Study Guide for Catholics. It is geared to the Advent and Christmas season but the methodology and themes are useful for viewing this and other films during other parts of the year.

Be inspired.

The Nativity Story will be in stores March 20th. It's a classic.