The Nativity Story

Covering the 2006 movie "The Nativity Story," about the story of Mary and Joseph
and their journey together as they bring the Messiah into the world.

~~One Family. One Journey. One child, who would change the world. Forever.~~

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Interview with Wyck Godfrey (producer)

Mark Moring from Christianity Today Movies interviewed Wyck Godfrey, the producer of "Nativity." Below is an excerpt; Click here for the complete interview.

For Unto Us a Film Is Born
When New Line told producer Wyck Godfrey to make The Nativity Story in just 10 months, he knew it would take a miracle. Turns out he got a few along the way; the film releases worldwide Dec. 1.

When Wyck Godfrey and longtime friend Marty Bowen formed their own company—Temple Hill Productions—in January, they thought they'd take some time figuring out what movies they wanted to make.

But by the end of the month, they already had one in the can. And the studio, New Line Cinema, wanted it in a hurry—by this Christmas. Movies are rarely made that quickly; they wanted it in just ten months, even though it usually takes at least twice that long.

Getting this film into theaters by the beginning of December would take a miracle. But then, if the movie is about a miracle …

Lo and behold, The Nativity Story will be ready after all, opening in theaters worldwide on Dec. 1. And Godfrey, a devout Christian and movie business veteran who says he's seen God's fingerprints all over the production of this film—starting with the script by veteran Mike Rich, another Christian.

Godfrey, 38, who lives with his wife and three kids (ages 7, 6, 4), spoke with us about The Nativity Story, which tells the tale of Joseph and Mary for about 18 months up till Christ's birth and the flight into Egypt.

How did you end up with Mike Rich's script?
Wyck Godfrey: I've known Mike since he wrote Finding Forrester. And his agent at the time, Marty Bowen, is my business partner now. Some time ago, Marty told Mike, who had great success writing inspiration movies in the world of sports, that he ought to apply that same passion into something else that's equally important to him. Mike called him back a week later and mentioned his idea for The Nativity Story. Marty thought it was fantastic, and thought it would be a great thing to be our first project together.

Bible stories used to be like hot potatoes for studios. Did The Passion of the Christ change that?
Godfrey: It certainly created a precedence, allowing people who decide what movies to make to breathe a little easier. The New Line executive that Marty and I primarily deal with is Cale Boyter. He and I go to the same church, and it's rare in this business to find people that have similar beliefs that you do, that you say, "He's the perfect guy to give this project to." And he felt really strongly about it.

He took it to his colleagues at New Line, and they got it right away. Bob Shay, who runs New Line, grew up in a very conservative Jewish family, but is very religious, and I think he really appreciated the love with which Mike wrote this story.
When you first read Mike's script of The Nativity Story, how did you react?
Godfrey: I remember thinking, He did it. He pulled it off. He found a way to put you in the shoes of a 14-year-old girl for whom any of these things are big deals—having to tell your parents you're pregnant, going on a dangerous 100-mile journey. Those are much more dramatic scenes than you think about when you're reading Scripture or hearing it in Sunday school. You just think, Oh, an angel came to her and told her she was going to have a baby, and she said, "Great." And then they had to go to Bethlehem and they had it in a manger. You never think about how tough it really was. This script and film make you realize that the level of faith Mary and Joseph had in God was extraordinary.

I hope the movie will make people reflect on their lives. Like, "If God came and asked me to do something half as difficult, would I have the faith to do it?" I'm not sure a lot of us would be able to say yes.

Once New Line signed off on it, what happened next?
Godfrey: When they said, "Oh, by the way, we want it for this Christmas," there was a little bit of panic. It usually takes months to find the right director, but literally within a week, Catherine Hardwicke called up and said, "I want to do it." She had already read the script, and was immediately interested.

That sounds like one of a number of "God things" you could point to along the way.
Godfrey: Yes. The probability of being able to pull this off in such a short amount of time is so small that you just start to say, "It's ordained. There's a power behind getting this thing done. And it's not ours."

Any other anecdotes that seemed clearly "ordained"?
Godfrey: The chances that a studio immediately loves an idea—especially on the first draft of a script—and wants to do it is very rare. Finding a director in less than two weeks is extremely rare, especially one who's willing to attack the movie in such a short time frame. When we said we want it for December 1, Catherine said, "Well then we should probably get on a plane tomorrow for Morocco and Italy to check out the locations." She was game to attack it as voraciously as needed.

And then your cast came together pretty quickly.
Godfrey: Yes. I tried to tell the studio that it took us six months to find the boy to play Eragon [in another upcoming Godfrey production, releasing Dec. 15], and he's certainly less iconic than The Virgin Mary! I said, "People go on worldwide, year-long searches to find these actors, and you're expecting us to find a girl that can speak with an Aramaic accent, have the perfect look, and is a good enough actress to pull it off?" Then Catherine just showed up for our meeting with the studio and said, "Here's the girl." It was Keisha Castle-Hughes, who had been in Whale Rider. We flew Keisha in from New Zealand, and everyone went, "Wow, that's her."

Why is Catherine the right choice for directing this?
Godfrey: I really believed she could bring the texture and reality to the characters of Mary and Joseph—that she would have the ability to really treat them as real people, not iconic figures. I felt like that was the key to the movie working. We didn't want to objectify the story; we didn't want to treat it just like an "event." We really wanted to get underneath the skin of Mary and Joseph, to really put ourselves in their shoes and understand what it was like to go through what they went through. Catherine had done that in Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown both with girls and boys. I felt like this story needs that edge, that intensity. Otherwise you end up with something that might feel like a Hallmark movie.
This story doesn't have the touch points of The Passion, but Bible movies often spark controversy. What are your concerns?
Godfrey: I try not to worry about it, because at some point you hand the movie over to the public, and they're either going to embrace it or not. All you can do is try to make the best movie that you can. I think our intent with the movie is really pure, and hopefully that will shine through.

Maybe the Catholic audience won't appreciate that Mary experience labor pains. I'm not Catholic, but my partner [Bowen] is, and he's OK with it. But I'm married to a gynecologist and obstetrician, so if I made this movie without Mary experiencing labor pains, I probably wouldn't have been let back in the house!

Everybody may have different opinions of all of the in-between bits that aren't written in the Scripture, of how things might have happened. What we've done is just try to present, from our own knowledge of the way people are, how people probably reacted.

But ultimately I feel like what you want out of a Christmas movie emotionally is very different from what The Passion had to present. And while Easter is a holiday of rejoicing, Good Friday is much more somber, so that story—and the drama, conflict, and pain of that story—is appropriate. But Christmas is really a time to rejoice. This is the story about rejoicing in the birth of Christ, and it should be uplifting and wondrous.
I assume you've had to pinch yourself a few times about being part of this project. What does it really mean to you?
Godfrey: Marty and I both have said that if nothing else happens for us in the movie business, we both felt like we could go to our grave feeling like we had done something meaningful and important to us and to the world. It definitely is fulfilling on that level where you feel like, "This is something I was led to do, we pulled it off, and it's going to make it to the theaters." At that point, again, it's up to the people—and God—to decide how many people enjoy and appreciate it. But hopefully it will be satisfying to the audience we intended it for.
© Christianity Today International. Click for reprint information.

"Nativity" pictures and trailer in Germany

'Warner Bros.' haben wieder, neue Szenebilder zum kommenden Historien-Drama The Nativity Story - Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit... veröffentlicht. Ihr könnt euch die insgesamt 26 Szenebilder samt einem Teaser-Poster und einem Banner, mit einem Klick auf das erste Bild oder den ersten Link unten, ansehen. Auch hat man den deutschen Teaser-Trailer zum Film veröffentlicht. Er ist 9,24 MB groß und 1:03 Minuten lang. Zum abspielen wird der 'Apple-Quicktime Player' benötigt. Klickt auf dass zweite Bild oder den zweiten angegebenen Link, um zum Trailer zu gelangen. Catherine Hardwickes Film über das Leben der Jungfrau Maria, nach einem Drehbuch von Mike Rich, erscheint hierzulande ab dem 7. Dezember 2006. Mehr Infos gibts in unserer Filmdatenbank.

Approximate English Translation:
Warner Bros.' have also new scene pictures to the coming history drama "The Nativity Story" - "It came to pass at that time"... published. You can look at those altogether 26 scene pictures including a Teaser poster and a banner, with one click on the first picture or first left down. Also one published the German Teaser Trailer to the film. It is 9.24 MB large and 1:03 minutes long. The ' Apple Quicktime Player ' will play needed. Click on that second picture or the second indicated left, in order to arrive at the Trailer. Catherine Hardwicke's film over the life of the virgin Mary, after a film script of Mike Rich, appears in this country starting from 7 December 2006. More information is given in our
film data base.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Getting Biblical: Shohreh Aghdashloo's (Elizabeth) New Epic Drama

GETTING BIBLICAL: Shohreh Aghdashloo's New Epic Drama

«One Couple. One Journey. One Child...who would change the world...forever»
–Tagline to The Nativity Story

What is amazing about Shohreh Aghdashloo is that one cannot second guess her eclectic film choices. Her career has been one of ups and downs and yet she has pursued her path with determination and most importantly for an actor with an immense Faith in her Art which was often at odds with that of her community and generation. The rising Star of Abass Kiarostami’s only political movie Gozaresh had to put an end to her career due to a religious revolution that was to tear her country, partly break her marriage to another talented artist Aydin Aghdashloo and force her to exile for a life that was no less bohemian and yet full of happy surprises. Maybe it is precisely Faith that brought Shohreh back where she truly belonged that is the London Stage and subsequently to the sunlight’s of Hollywood where she was to even be nominated for an Oscar in 2003 in a supporting role in A House with Sand and Fog. In a profession where women, unlike men are often denied great roles after a certain age, Aghdashloo seems to evolve like good wine, adding with each film an extra dimension to her wide abilities as an actress of talent. The Former Jodie Foster of Iranian Cinema seems to capture the Camera with her strong personality very much like former Hollywood Legend Bette Davis. Aghdashloo’s unique blend of voice and exotic looks surely remain in everyone’s mind after each of her onscreen performances as she subtly steals the show from her often more famous co-Stars be it : as Sir Ben Kingsley’s tormented wife in Andre Dubus III novel’s screen adaptation, as the cold blooded terrorist Dina Araz opposite Kieffer Sutherland in 24 or as a medic in blockbusters like X-Men 3, The Lake House or The Exorcism of Emily Rose opposite such acclaimed Stars as Hugh Jackson, Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Carpenter. If Hollywood still owes Aghdashloo justice (*) with a great title role that would put her in the limelight of public attention, and a popularity long due amongst Hollywood talents, she creates attention once again by appearing cast as Elisabeth mother of John The Baptist in a much expected Biblical Epic: The Nativity Story directed by Helen Catherine Hardwicke.

"The Nativity Story" chronicles the arduous journey of two people, Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Joseph (Oscar Isaac), a miraculous pregnancy, and the history-defining birth of Jesus. In a small village, a young girl lives the last teenage years. To escape the harsh conditions of family life, her parents hope to marry her. Everything was prepared for this important event when suddenly her fate takes a different turn: The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and announces that she will have a child like no other women ever did. Thus the most extraordinary story of Humanity is about to be unfold …

Aghdashloo plays the role of Elizabeth, wife of Zachary and mother of John the Baptist, is to be found in the book of Luke. Elisabeth means in Hebrew "worshiper of God." A descendant of the priestly line of Aaron, she was a kinswoman—how close we are not told—of the Virgin Mary. According to the Gospel, Elizabeth had lived a blameless life with her husband in one of the hill-towns of Judea. Having reached an advanced age with her prayers for a son unanswered, she thought that her barrenness was a reproach. One day, while Zachary was serving in the temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared at the right of the altar, and announced that a son would be born to Elizabeth. It was in the sixth month of her pregnancy that the Virgin Mary came to visit her—a touching and beautiful scene pictured by many great artists. The Angel Gabriel, having lately announced to Mary the destiny that awaited her, also told her that her kinswoman Elizabeth was with child. The Virgin Mary, eager to share in Elizabeth's happiness and to confide that she too would bear a child, traveled down the dusty road from Nazareth. On Mary's arrival, she was amazed when Elizabeth, having foreseen knowledge, greeted her as "mother of my Lord." Elizabeth's salutation was in these words: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished." The Gospel story tells us further that at Elizabeth's delivery her friends and neighbors rejoiced with her, and when the child was brought to be circumcised, they were going to call him after his father Zachary, but his mother said, "His name shall be John.

Screenwriter Mike Rich began writing the screenplay of the movie on 1 December 2005, exactly a year before its release. The cast were taught how to use certain tools used 2000 years ago as well as how to build homes, how to press olives and grapes, how to make bread, how to make cheese, and how to milk goats. Rich's script, and it's faithful and reverent to the Gospel accounts, but also brings Joseph and Mary's characters alive in a very human way. They wrestle with fears and doubts and anxieties, all within the framework of unshakeable faith. The film was shot partly in Italy at a Village called Matera. "The joke is that Matera looks more like Jerusalem than Jerusalem does," says R.J. Millard, New Line's marketing consultant. Founded by the Romans in the third century B.C., Matera is home to ancient cave dwellings believed to have housed Italy's first humans some 4,000 years ago. Some of the more "modern" buildings include a 13th-century cathedral, high on a hill in the middle of town. Matera so resembles ancient Palestine and Israel that other Bible movies have been filmed in the same location—Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew in 1964, and Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ in 2004.

Iranian Shaun Toub is also playing in an epic for the first time along with an impressive cast, including Ciaran Hinds (King Herod), Alexander Siddig (Gabriel) both of whom are familiar to Epic films since they respectively played as Julius Caesar and Hannibal in the series Rome and the documentary fiction Hannibal.

The film is due for a World Release just before Christmas on December 1st of this year.

Author’s note:
Official Website of The Nativity Story:

(*) Contrary to The Lake House, strangely Shohreh Aghdashloo’s photo credits do not appear in the official websites of her latest movies such as X-Men 3 or The Nativity Story although her role’s are more than just noticeable parts in both films.

(**) Aghdashloo has been Awarded along with another actor of Epics Omid Djalili in the upcoming Persian Golden Lioness Awards in Budapest Hungary organized by WAALM® 2nd annual Awards 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Outreach, Inc. Provides "Nativity" Tools for Churches and Outreach

Outreach, Inc. has created a number of outreach tools in partnership with "Nativity" for churches and laypersons alike to reach people with the Gospel story of the Nativity. A number of resources are available:

Free "Nativity" Toolkit (featuring Outreach product samples and free movie posters)

Free "Nativity" Pastor Screenings (more dates will be added, including the one at the National Outreach Convention on November 9)

Interl'inc Provides "Nativity" Resources for Youth Leaders

Interl'inc, a resource site for Youth Ministry, is providing some materials for Youth Leaders related to "Nativity." Included are the following samples to the leader's guide:

Table of Contents
"A Righteous Dude" --An article about Joseph
Session One: "Unplanned Pregnancies"

Friday, October 20, 2006

Official Rating for "Nativity:" PG

According to the official site, "Nativity" has been rated PG by the MPAA for some violent content.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Nativity" Books to be published by Pauline Books & Media

Pauline Books and Media is publishing two companion books to "Nativity." They are written and edited by Sister Rose Pacatte, who was a consultant to the film, and are geared for the Catholic audience. My reviews below.

"The Nativity Story" Film Study Guide for Catholics, by Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

The film guide starts with a brief introduction to using the medium of film, particularly religious ones, to assist in the faith journey of individuals, groups, and communities. Sister Rose writes about how film is just as powerful of a medium as is literature or art, but elicits an emotional reaction in the viewer and can reach people where other artistic media cannot. She writes how the guide will assist each reader and group leader in using the film to elicit thoughts, feelings, and discussion based on what is seen in the film, and then gives a basic background to the movie, starting with the script, the Biblical story and history, and some of those involved in bringing the story of the Nativity to life.

Part I of the book focuses on studying as an individual. Although this section is only 3 pages long, Sr. Rose has packed it full of thoughtful questions and Scriptures to ponder. This is no lightweight study, as she encourages the individual to study other Biblical mothers aside from Mary, including Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah & Rachel, Ruth, Hannah, Judith, and Esther, to name a few. She then challenges the reader to consider and to journal about these women’s life stories and their families, their environment, their difficulties and triumphs, their supports, and their Godly roles. She then encourages the reader to shift their attention to those in the Bible as portrayed in “The Nativity Story,” and how they showed qualities or dealt with topics such as faith, angels, relationships—with others and with God, and how they may have inspired the viewer. After pondering these issues, Sr. Rose invites the individual to reflect on new insights gained from the study and perhaps new meaning in praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Part II of the book focuses on studying “The Nativity Story” as a group. There is a meaty portion here for a group to chew on, starting off by suggesting the leader hand out cards to the group members with different characters of the Nativity, and for each person to concentrate on that person’s experiences in the movie and then discuss what they observed, thought, and felt afterwards. There are five themes that Sr. Rose brings up as presented in the film: Journeying, Seeking, Prayer, Values & Virtues, and Story & Symbols. Within these themes, several in-depth questions are asked for the group to consider and upon which to reflect after they have reviewed the movie, considering Scripture as well as one’s thoughts. She ends the group study with a number of motifs found throughout the film that could spark further discussion.

Part III covers using the film as an approach to a whole community catechesis, or faith-formation for the whole parish. Sr. Rose nicely divides up how this can be done throughout the Advent Season as well as topics that would be appropriate for adults, adolescents, and children to consider. There are reflections, with Scripture, for contemplation on the First Sunday of Advent, Second Sunday of Advent, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Third Sunday of Advent, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Christmas Vigil Mass, Christmas Mass at Midnight & Dawn, Christmas Mass during the Day, Feast of the Holy Family, Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Second Sunday after Christmas, and Epiphany.

Although this book is short, it does not lack in content. Sr. Rose poses very thought-provoking questions designed for people to look at their spiritual lives individually or as a group or community by relating to the events and those involved in the Nativity Story as seen in the movie (and correlated with Scripture). It is a guide well-worth using for discussion and contemplation about the Incarnation and the events, the emotions, and environment as a whole that surrounded it.

"The Nativity Story" Contemplating Mary's Journey of Faith, edited by Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP

This book is a compilation of small essays by women who reflect upon Mary’s various journeys—physical, emotional, and spiritual—in accordance with their own lives. Compiled by Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP, she introduces the book as a way perhaps to view Mary differently and more personally than a believer might have over the years through her journeys of life. Each chapter is written by a different woman who addresses a particular journey of Mary.

The first chapter approaches Mary’s Journey of Everyday Life, and is written by Dr. Mayra Fernandez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, then moved to Cuba and then to New York City by age 8. She discussed Mary as being a role model for everyone in her neighborhood, especially in the Latin community; a real and active person choosing to do the right thing. She illustrated how Mary became someone with whom she could relate, a real girl like her who had to make decisions. Using Mary’s example to make hard—but right—choices, she was her inspiration to stay pure until her wedding night, not to abort her baby when she contracted measles, and eventually adopted many other children into her family and will be a missionary to street children in Bolivia.

Dealing with Mary’s Journey of Faith, Selena Liu, a social worker and writer, talks about how faith allowed Mary to accept the intimacy offered when Gabriel approached her with the task of bringing Jesus into the world, with a mutual trust between her and God. In the same way, God asks us to trust Him and gives us “Annunciation” moments that guide our lives and build trust, and we sometimes need the memories of these moments to help us continue with God’s calling. Letting God be in control of situations brings about a lightness despite the seriousness of them and may actually work for other good, giving the example of her car breaking down on the way to an appreciation breakfast that caused her late timing to coincide with one an attempted kidnapping of one of her clients as she encountered the kidnapper and child in front of the building. She encourages us to view God as a Father who carries us on His shoulders, carrying us on an amazing journey.

Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP, broaches Mary’s Journey of Surrender asshe focuses on the complete surrender of Mary’s being at the Annunciation. She writes about how surrender seems contradictory to a strong woman of faith, and especially to our modern independent culture. It is difficult in our nature to surrender, especially with the connotation of “giving up” or being a “victim.” Sr. Marie also discussed the difference between “letting go”—giving it up to a free fall—and “surrender”—entrusting it to Someone Else. Surrender is more of an act of trust than it is of being passive, and with God, He is always trustworthy. When Mary says “yes” to God, she entrusts herself and her future to Him, even knowing some of the consequences it may bring. Ultimately, when we surrender, our load lightens and we rejoice in God.

Chapter four covers a physical journey of Mary, that of her travel to her cousin Elizabeth. Sr. Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF, wrote about the visit that Mary took to visit her elderly cousin and how her visit of the location in Israel helped her to realize the mixture of faith and humanity that both Mary and Elizabeth portrayed. She recognized the miraculous pregnancies of both women, and that Mary had gone to visit Elizabeth for support, especially with Mary’s knowledge of what the consequences could be as a result of her Divine pregnancy. Sr. Judith notes the femininity of the site honoring this meeting and of the encounter as a young girl visits her older, matronly cousin as she deals with her emotions of her situation. At the same time, Mary’s Magnificat upon greeting Elizabeth also shows Mary’s deep faith in God and trust that He would once again raise the downtrodden. Considering these aspects of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth helped her to realize the strength, humanity, and humility that she hadn’t seen in Mary the Icon.

Mary’s Journey of the Spirit is contemplated by Sr. Gretchen Hailer, RSHM. When Gabriel visits Mary, though she questions how the miraculous pregnancy will be accomplished, she responds with a confident “yes”—without the counsel of others—that indicates that her faith in God is already deep. Sr. Gretchen writes about the various unique aspects of Mary’s spirituality that we can observe. She had an immediacy in her relationship with God, deeply attached to things of Him. Mary also a unification with those who were marginalized, as seen in her praise in the Magnificat. Pondering things in her heart throughout her pregnancy and presence of Jesus in her life, she became the first disciple, so to speak, and shows us how to follow God through servanthood and community.

Mary’s emotional Journey of Love is addressed in the sixth chapter by Marilyn-Ann Elphick, who writes about the love journey that Mary and Joseph share with each other, from a betrothal that Mary might not have been thrilled about, to an immediate, unexpected, and unique pregnancy that tested Joseph’s faith, and their journey through everything subsequently together. Joseph was a righteous man, who decided to send Mary away quietly so that she wouldn’t be stoned to death—he showed compassion even in the face of adversity. But he—as well as Mary—was open to God and believed the message from the angel in his dream, and thus embarked on a journey of faith and love together, dependent upon God to sustain him through the doubts and difficulties of their lives.

Chapter seven talks about Mary’s physical Journey to Bethlehem. Here, Ms. Scaperlanda writes about how Mary’s travel to Bethlehem must have been all the more difficult being late in pregnancy. However, the transformation into motherhood also has a profound effect—as she experienced with her four pregnancies—and speculated how that could have also been inspiration to Mary as she traveled with the Wonder in her womb. The intimacy of a baby within a mother’s womb provides an inner knowledge of that child that only a mother can know. With these experiences, mothers throughout the world can particularly identify with the maternal traits of Mary, as well as with her suffering, hope, joy, and expectation on her journey.

The eighth chapter deals with Mary’s inevitable Journey through Fear and Doubt. Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP, writes about how Mary had to deal with many fears from the moment she accepted God’s call for her to carry the Son of God—especially dealing with the societal and religious consequences, what other people thought and her own family’s doubt about her proclamation. She had to accept God’s truth of her miraculous pregnancy as her own, so she could then be steadfast in her fulfillment to God’s call despite what other people thought. She had to trust God to bring Joseph to the truth even as he doubted her words and was as challenged about the situation as Mary was in relation to the Law. Even after Jesus was born, Mary had to face the fear of Herod’s wrath as he tried to destroy Him, then uncertainty as they arrived in Egypt in escape, and finally in facing Jesus’ crucifixion. Even throughout, Mary offered her gift of Jesus, as we all have a gift to give in ourselves despite the fear and doubt.

Exploring Mary’s Journey of Sorrow, Marilyn Gill writes about her own experience as a young wife, moving to America as a pregnant native Panamanian, and then finding out her daughter that she gave birth to has hydrocephalus. She writes that at this time she contemplated Mary’s sorrows of being pregnant out of wedlock, of traveling on an uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem, and of having less-than-sanitary conditions in which to give birth without help. Ms. Gill illustrated that this medical challenge to her daughter caused her to look to Mary’s example more than ever and look to her for help. Her daughter survived and is a successful adult; however, her life has had other sorrows of losing her husband and a son, both when they were young. Using Mary’s example of surrender to God in the midst of her troubles, however, helped to equip her to deal with such difficulties.

Chapter ten deals with Mary’s Journey into the Unknown, particularly noting her travels to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. Sr. Mary Kathleen Glavich, SND, recounts for us how Mary had already been through quite a bit, and still in Bethlehem after just giving birth, she responds to Joseph’s dream immediately to head down to Egypt without delay—not complaining about another trip, doubting the timing of traveling with a newborn, or consulting the counsel of others. She probably had questions the whole journey to Egypt, her faith being tested again, but she still obeyed with courage and trust—as can we through our “detours” of life.

Finally, the last chapter relates Mary’s Journey with ours. Considering the family’s journey to Egypt, what did they feel, not knowing the end of the story as we do centuries later? How did they manage the long trek alone in the desert to the ancient land of exile of their ancestors? Sr. M. Jean Frisk talks about the questions we may have as we venture into the unknown, especially entering a religious vocation, but with God’s love, we are able to face whatever comes along our journey.

Each of these chapters opens with a Nativity Scripture and scene from the movie, and is followed by thoughtful questions to ponder in response to the journey about which the viewer has read. Each chapter is short enough for a quick read, perhaps as a daily devotional, and encourages each reader to consider Mary in a number of aspects and how we as humans today can also identify with her. This book is an insightful compilation book to read, particularly during the Advent season.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Full Screening of "Nativity" at National Outreach Convention

At this year's National Outreach Convention, held from November 8-11 in San Diego, California, there will be a screening of the complete movie on November 9th. Mike Rich, the screenwriter, will also be appearing as a speaker. One must be registered in order to attend.

Special Movie Preview with Screenwriter Mike Rich

December 1 the whole country will be buzzing about the New Line Cinema film, “The Nativity Story” which chronicles the story of Mary and Joseph during the year leading up to the birth of Christ. Written by Mike Rich (The Rookie, Miracle, Radio and Finding Forrester) the story is powerful and Biblically accurate. “The Nativity Story” is the new classic Christmas story and will provide an excellent outreach opportunity for your church this Christmas, and for years to come.

However, as a NOC attendee, you will have the rare chance to see the full-length film, almost a full month prior to its release. When? Thursday night, November 9th @ 9:30 PM (after Night of Comedy).

Where? To be scheduled at a local theater and if necessary, FREE transportation will be made available.

In addition, screenwriter Mike Rich, a Christian himself, will be speaking to the NOC attendees giving insights into the outreach opportunity that the film presents, as well as fascinating, "behind the scenes" stories from the movie and it's production.

More Appeal than The Passion of the Christ

In the same way that The Passion of the Christ, brought the realities of Jesus' death and resurrection to life for millions, “The Nativity Story” will bring the true story of Christmas into the hearts of Christians and non-Christians, as never before. However, "Nativity" will be a movie with family appeal and rating, making it even more accessible than The Passion. The film stars academy award-nominated actress Keisha Castle-Hughes (The Whale Rider) as Mary.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

'Nativity' Resource Site

The official "Nativity" site now has a link to their official resource site that is more downloadable friendly. As posted before, Tyndale House Publishers are a partner with "Nativity," printing their photo book, novelization, and some other devotional books. However, there are other partners that will be coming out with many promotional items connected with the movie, including outreach packages, Christmas cards, music, a television feature (Nov 23, 30/Dec 3, 2006), and other books from Pauline Books and Media, including a film study guide. There are also some long-awaited official images that can be downloaded. Included among the resources:

Film Synopsis
: Story behind the movie.

Official Artwork
: This includes downloadable logos, poster, bookmarks, and banners.

Official Photos
: Photos from the set that are downloadable.

: Downloadable for your computer wallpaper images.

: Embeddable for playing in your website. (for both Quicktime and Windows Media)

Thanks to Matt Page from the Bible Films Blog who brought this site to my strained eyes' attention.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tyndale House exclusive publisher for "Nativity"

In addition to the photographic book that Tyndale House Publishers is releasing on November 30, 2006, and the novelization of the script by Angela Hunt, they are also publishing a number of other books that tie in with "The Nativity Story" movie.

"Why the Nativity?" by David Jeremiah

Why do Christians make a big deal about an obscure baby born in a small town, Bethlehem? Why Bethlehem? Why Jesus? Why does it make a difference to me? In this book, David Jeremiah explains in his hallmark style for both believers and skeptics alike why it’s important to examine again the birth of that baby, Jesus. With the publicity surrounding New Line Cinema’s The Nativity Story movie this fall, you’ll want this book. It’s at just the right price to give away to people who are searching for the real meaning of Christmas. In short: Evangelism tool supporting the release of the major motion picture, The Nativity Story this Christmas season. Bulk church cases available at special discount to help stores form partnerships with local churches. 25 questions and answers and 25 Scripture readings to coincide with the Advent season.

"Looking Forward to the Nativity" Devotional by Jon Farrar

During the season of Christmas, it’s so difficult to find time to help your family meditate on the true meaning of Christmas. The short devotions in Looking Forward to the Nativity help you show your kids how people throughout the Bible looked forward to the coming of the Nativity--the birth of Jesus Christ. Each day illustrates how the baby Jesus fulfilled everything God had promised from the beginning. This short twenty-five-day devotional capitalizes on the natural wonder children have as Christmas approaches during the month of December.

"A Nativity Classic Devotional" by James Stuart Bell

The Nativity is one of the most vibrant traditions we celebrate today. Everything from fresh mistletoe to the Christmas pine tree is rooted in rich traditions. This year spend Christmas surrounded by the words of historical spiritual figures including Spurgeon, Chambers, Luther, and Moody. It’s guaranteed to deepen your experience of Christmas. Make this Christmas the one you’ll remember for years to come. (releasing November 1 to correlate with New Line Cinema’s “The Nativity Story.”)

They also have resources for retailers to use to publicize "Nativity."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

'Nativity' Novelization and Documentary to be released

Available for pre-order on, a 250-page paperback novelization of 'Nativity' will be released soon. Written by Angela Hunt and Mike Rich (screenwriter for 'Nativity'). It can also be ordered on audiobook. A description:

From Publishers Weekly:
It's a difficult task to retell the biblical nativity story in a fresh way—after all, it has been novelized, brought to stage and screen, and is the stuff of endless children's Christmas pageants. Yet this companion novel to the New Line Cinema feature film (which will hit theaters December 1) should find a place on the bookshelf as a fresh and viable retelling. Hunt, the author of more than 70 books and working from Mike Rich's screenplay, refrains from oversanitizing the story, although Mary and Joseph are fairly one-dimensional (there aren't a lot of character flaws here). She depicts their gritty, hardscrabble existence as balanced by the love of family. As a thoughtful reader would expect, the census trip to Bethlehem is no picnic, but some readers may be surprised that the shepherds and wise men show up at the stable together, unlike in the gospel account. The good-natured joshing among the three wise men provides a lighter note to the chapters where Herod's cruelty is well portrayed. Hunt balances the necessary violence with a sensitivity that will expand her readership. Her rich prose and cultural details utilize the five senses to recreate the familiar story, which spans many points of view and includes a fine subplot about Elizabeth, Zechariah and John. (Nov.)
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Also for release on October 17, 2006, there will be a DVD documentary called "The True Story of the Nativity." A description:

The story of the early years of the Holy Family is revealed through contemporary scientific discoveries and startling new evidence! Witness the birth of Christ and then follow Mary, Joseph and the newborn Jesus as they are forced to flee into Egypt to escape Herod s murderous decree. Real historical sites in Israel, Egypt and Jordan are the backdrop of this timeless tale of miracles and mystery. Visit actual sites in the Holy Land where astounding events still occur in the present day; the same places where Jesus performed miracles 2000 years ago. This is the definitive contemporary look at a miraculous journey and a life that would change the world forever.