Audience of 7,000 Makes Film History at the Vatican
By WENN Monday, November 27, 2006 [SOURCE]
HOLLYWOOD – More than 7,000 film fans made history in Italy last night when they attended the first world premiere held at the Vatican.
The Nativity Story, a new movie about the birth of Jesus Christ, debuted as part of a benefit in the hallowed Paul VI Hall.
Pope Benedict XVI was not present for the screening, but U.S. Archbishop John Foley led the event by praising the film and giving director Catherine Hardwicke the Vatican’s stamp of approval.
Hardwicke was thrilled by the special screening and insisted she never expected the Pope to attend: “I think the Pope is pretty busy.”
Vatican Plays Host for ‘Nativity Story’ Premiere
By PETER KIEFER Published: November 27, 2006
ROME, Nov. 27 — They will almost certainly remain strange bedfellows, Hollywood and the Holy See, but the two had a rare encounter on Sunday when the Vatican was the host of the world premiere of the New Line Cinema film The Nativity Story, giving an unprecedented stamp of approval to an American studio production. And though Pope Benedict XVI was conspicuously absent from the event, a clutch of high-ranking cardinals joined the more than 7,000 people who attended.
Held in Paul VI Hall next to St. Peter’s Basilica, the premiere started late, in true Hollywood fashion. The film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of
Dogtown), and cast members were seated directly across from high-ranking church officials like Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, who ranks second only to Pope Benedict in the Vatican hierarchy. “I kept trying to look over there to see if they liked it,” Ms. Hardwicke acknowledged after the premiere.
That, of course, was a foregone conclusion, as the pope himself had approved of the film well in advance.
“It is well done,” Cardinal Bertone said, as Reuters reported. “It reproposes this event which changed history with realism but also with a sense of great respect of the mystery of the Nativity.”
The Nativity Story is a dramatic recounting of the courtship between Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It is one of a wave of religious-themed movies due from Hollywood studios, which awakened to the potential of an audience for these films with the success of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ in 2004.
Sunday’s event marked the first time the Vatican was the host of the world premiere of a full-length feature film, though last year it helped stage the debut of a television movie about the life of Pope John Paul II, at which Pope Benedict XVI was present. The premiere was also in sharp contrast to the tensions between some Roman Catholic groups and Sony Pictures Entertainment over The Da Vinci Code, which was based on a popular novel that challenges church doctrine.