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With 'Miral,' Harvey Weinstein jumps into the Israeli-Palestinian fray

June 8, 2010 | 11:20 am

It almost seems so perfect, it's a wonder it hadn't happened already.

Provocative filmmaker Julian Schnabel, taking on a provocative subject, will again be working with industry  provocateur Harvey Weinstein.

MiralThe Weinstein Co. announced this morning that it would domestically distribute "Miral," Schnabel's film about the founding of a Palestinian orphanage in 1948 and the evolution of a young Palestinian woman at the dawn of the first intifada. (Rula Jebreal adapted the screenplay from her own novel, which is partly inspired by true events.)

Schnabel had previously worked with the new Miramax, which released his "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" to Oscar acclaim in 2007, but goes back to his roots with this film: Harvey (in a very different time) released Schnabel's directorial debut, "Basquiat," in 1996.

With Freida Pinto as the lead, "Miral" examines the founding of the Dar Al-Tifel Institute orphanage for Palestinian refugees in 1948, and then flashes forward to Pinto's character, who was raised in the orphanage, as a young woman in the early 1990s, when she goes to work in a refugee camp, where she is caught in a quandary between violent and peaceful means of resistance. It's probably the most mainstream film project to take a Palestinian point of view on the genesis and modern aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"As a staunch supporter of Israel I thought this would be a movie I would have a hard time wrapping my head around," Weinstein said in a statement. "However, meeting Rula moved me to open my heart and mind, and I hope we can do the same with audiences worldwide.”

Reports from Movieline and others have focused on the irony of Weinstein, an an "Israel loyalist," picking up the film. The coverage is a little perplexing -- Harvey certainly isn't known as a staunch pro-Palestinian advocate, but it's not like he's out there on the AIPAC front lines (he is, however, a heat-seeking missile when it comes to topical and buzz-worthy movies).

Still, Schnabel and Weinstein, both well-known as strong personalities, should have some interesting debates in the cutting room and at the marketing meetings. Given the stubbornness of their visions, there may be fireworks worthy of, well, a Middle Eastern conflict.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The "Miral" book jacket. Credit: Penguin Books

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Comments () | Archives (6)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Frieda Pinto? I know movie executives have a reputation for being group-herd cowards, but casting an Indian actress as a Palestinian simply because she has some name recognition is pretty lame. There are loads of talented Arab actresses out there. And by the by, not all brown people are the same. Ridiculous.

Freida Pinto as a Palestinian? LOL. Yeah, all brown people are the same, but then again this is the same town that cast Naveen "flaming indian-looking" Andrews as an Iraqi.

I agree that it was strange to cast Frieda Pinto as Miral, the Palestinian girl in this film.

There are many beautiful and talented Palestinian actresses (Israeli or from other countries) who would have been more suitable.

They probably chose Frieda Pinto because she looks like the authour Rula Jubreal (google her)

This is the only way we will solve the problem..ADDRESS IT

Too bad Shnabel missed the mark so completely.
It could have been an interesting movie, but many people walked out
Of the audience when it was screened. It was predictable and a
Bit dull. Don't waste your money...


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