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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The UK's Inspire Magazine highlights The Nativity Story Movie

Inspire Magazine UK:

New Line Cinema will release The Nativity Story in cinemas on 1 December 2006. Production of the drama began in May, with primary location shooting in Italy and Morocco, and the film is currently in post-production.

The film’s script writer Mike Rich, a Christian, is known for his writing of Dennis Quaid’s The Rookie and Cuba Gooding’s Radio. He is the co-winner of two “Character and Morality in Entertainment Awards” for those films. His first big script sale was Finding Forrester (starring Sean Connery) which he wrote while News Director and morning news DJ for a popular FM radio station in Portland, Oregon.

Focusing on getting inside the minds and hearts of Mary and Joseph, Rich says he “felt compelled both spiritually and emotionally to tackle this subject matter. … For me, the scenes that resonated so much for me when I was writing the script were the one-on-one scenes with Mary and Joseph … I thought it was just a remarkable journey of faith.”

Concerned with the difficulty and importance of the project, he requested the prayers of his pastor and church. Given that relatively little detail is provided by the Bible on the events, he reports that the script was sent for comment to as many theologians and historians as possible, to gain accuracy and insight.

The Nativity Story includes the visit by the angel to Mary, her visit with cousin Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph’s trip to from Nazareth to Bethlehem, King Herod, the wise men, etc.

Because the actual locations of Bethlehem and Nazareth have become modernised over the years, the production decided to shoot in the village of Matera, Italy, which has been virtually unchanged for centuries, and was previously used as a location in The Passion of The Christ.

The production also travelled to Ouarzazarte, Morocco, where scenes involving Herod's palace and the Temple of Jerusalem were shot - the same location used in Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven.

Playing the role of Mary is Keisha Castle-Hughes (Queen Naboo in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Paikea in Whale Rider. Oscar Isaac is Joseph, and Elizabeth is played by Shohreh Aghdashloo (the memorable wife of an Arab terrorist in TV’s 24, and Dr Kavita Rao in X-Men: The Last Stand).

Director Catherine Hardwicke is best known for her work on Thirteen (2003, writer/director), Lords of Dogtown (2005, director), and as production designer on Tom Cruises’ Vanilla Sky (2001) and George Clooney’s Three Kings (1999).

Friday, August 18, 2006

YouTube video: The Nativity Story trailer

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Nativity Film Director Frustrated with Film Livestock"

Film-maker CATHERINE HARDWICKE struggled to shoot the birth of JESUS CHRIST for Christmas film THE NATIVITY STORY because a chosen cow was a nervous mother, a donkey had haemorrhoids and sheep were mad. The THIRTEEN director had a four-hour window to capture the Biblical scene one night while filming in Matera, Italy and she learned the hard way just how difficult animal actors can be.

Under the watchful eye of Italy's Humane Society, it took 25 minutes for burly farmers to persuade the scene's cow to lie down and then a skittish donkey had to be replaced when it refused to settle down for shooting. The new ass had to rest on a cushion because it had a painful backside - and then "insane" sheep made every beast in the makeshift Bethlehem stable uneasy. Just as Hardwicke was about to shoot her first footage, the cow stood up and relieved herself all over the floor, prompting the Humane Society watchdog on set to announce filming was over for the night.

Hardwicke recalls, "That night... the first night we tried to do it, the babies went home at midnight before we got to roll any film and we had to use a rubber baby instead. "The next night, we did it all over, and we got the real baby in there." The director admits the Jesus baby's parents were more than a little concerned about their infant being so close to livestock: "They can't believe they agreed to let it come on the set, but it gets to be Baby Jesus, a Catholic fantasy."

"Jesus' mother gains spiritual, iconic import" - The Oregonian

The Oregonian:

Jesus' mother gains spiritual, iconic import


For Hollywood screenwriters, it's all about character. Even when you're writing about the mother of Jesus.

"Character drives the story," says Mike Rich, the Portland screenwriter whose films include "Finding Forrester," "The Rookie" and "Radio."

"All my movies follow ordinary people doing extraordinary things."

His latest, "The Nativity Story," recounts the circumstances of Jesus' birth, mostly through the eyes of his mother, Mary. Played by 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes, the radiant heroine of "Whale Rider," Mary is extraordinary enough, according to the New Testament, that God chose her to bear his son. She also is ordinary enough, according to many Christians, that she is the shining example of how to live a life of faith. [full article.]

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"The face is familiar... Ciarán Hinds"

The UK Telegraph:

Coolly authoritative, almost avuncular-looking but with a hint of steeliness, Ciarán Hinds [IMDB page] is making a name for himself as a man to hire when you want a figure of authority who is not necessarily corrupt, but perhaps not quite on the right side of the law either.

He can be seen as the police boss in Michael Mann's handsome Miami Vice, and it was only last year that he was the memorable "fixer" in Spielberg's Munich and an entertaining Julius Caesar in the all-conquering television series Rome. Born in Belfast in 1953, he quit his law degree to enrol at Rada, and never looked back.

He has since been seen in The Cook, the Thief… (1989), Oscar and Lucinda (1997), Calendar Girls (2003), and, showing that he's not entirely above temptation, the second of Lara Croft's ludicrous outings (2003). He should prove a suitably nasty Herod in The Nativity Story, one of five projects currently on the go.