Hollywood's "Nativity" in world premiere at Vatican





"The Nativity Story", a Hollywood movie of the story of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus, had its world premiere at the Vatican on Sunday and won strong praise from the man known as the"deputy pope". The audience of some 8,000 people who attended a benefit gala premiere in the Vatican's vast Paul VI Hall broke into applause five times during the screening and again at the end. It was the first feature film to premiere at the Vatican.

"It is well done," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State, who ranks second only to Pope Benedict in the Vatican hierarchy.

"It re-proposes this event which changed history with realism but also with a sense of great respect of the mystery of the nativity," he told reporters afterwards."It is a good cinematic event ... the judgment is positive."

The film stars 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes as the Virgin Mary. Castle-Hughes, an Academy Award nominee who rose to cinema fame in"Whale Rider", is a New Zealander who is pregnant and unmarried in real life and did not attend the premiere.

Vatican officials have denied reports that the Pope did not attend the premiere because of the unwed pregnancy controversy. They said he never planned to attend because he is 79 and resting ahead of a difficult trip to Turkey starting on Tuesday.



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