A papal audience for Polish ‘Quo Vadis’

Pope among guests at preem

Hollywood likes to occasionally stage its premieres at unusual places — aircraft carriers, Ellis Island, Alcatraz. But it’s not too often that the words “preem” and “Vatican” appear in the same sentence. And it’s not too often that a publicist’s celebrity guest list includes the pope.

Pope John Paul II was among the 4,000-plus guests at the world preem of Polish film “Quo Vadis” Thursday.

After the screening in the Paul VI Hall, the pontiff gave the pic a thumb’s up and said, “This film helps in returning to the Christian tradition, to understand it and to find it once again for yourself.”

“Right from the beginning, I dreamed of being able to show ‘Quo Vadis’ to Pope John Paul II,” said producer Mirosaw Sowinski. “We are truly honored that the world premiere for our film took place in Rome. The city has a magical significance for us.

“The Paul VI Hall,” he added, “is situated in what used to be Nero’s gardens, where the first execution of Christians was held. It is barely 300 meters from St. Peter’s Basilica.”

Guests included the chairman of the Polish Cinematography Committee and wife of Poland’s president, Jolanta Kwaoeniewska; Nazzareno Gabrielli, director of the scientific office of the Vatican Museum; archaeologist and art historian Alexandro Locci; and tenor Jose Carreras.

A more intimate post-screening reception gathered 350 guests at the nearby Columbus Hotel.

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