The Nativity Story chronicles the arduous journey of two people, Mary and Joseph, a miraculous pregnancy, and the history-defining birth of Jesus. This dramatic and compelling story comes to life in a major motion picture starring Academy Award® nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) as Mary, Oscar Isaac (Guerrilla) as Joseph, and Academy Award® nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) as Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.
The Nativity Story is directed by Catherine Hardwicke from a screenplay by Mike Rich (Finding Forrester, The Rookie). It is scheduled for a Friday, December 1, 2006 release. Filmmakers are bringing an unprecedented level of commitment to ensure the authenticity not only of the Nativity story itself, but of the film's look as well. "We are looking for epic intimacy," says director Catherine Hardwicke. "We want this journey to be big and beautiful, but we want to feel what these people felt. I hope audiences can relate to the film on a personal level and find some inspiration to get through their own challenges and difficulties." Producer Wyck Godfrey adds, "We chose Catherine because she cuts against the grain of the picture-book version of the movie that could have been made. She has had great success at really capturing the lives of young people in particular, and the conflict, crisis, and pain of growing up. The idea of bringing her point of view to Biblical times is very interesting." She, writer Mike Rich, and production designer Stefano Ortolani spent countless hours researching the era to ensure every detail looked and felt authentic. Because the actual locations of Bethlehem and Nazareth have become fairly modernized 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 for The Passion of the Christ).
"Matera is more authentic than the actual sites now," says Rich. "Present-day Nazareth is a modern town. Jerusalem is a very modern town. Even Bethlehem is not what it used to be. Matera offers absolutely every authentic aspect of those communities." Additionally, the production journeyed to Ouarzazate, Morocco, where it shot scenes involving Herod's castle and the temple of Jerusalem at the same locations used in such films as Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.
For previews, pictures, group sales, and more information, please visit The Nativity Story website .