The film’s director Julian Schnabel, producer Jon Kilik, screenwriter Rula Jebreal and distributor Harvey Weinstein have issued a response to claims that the film “portrays Israel in a highly negative light.”
The Israeli UN delegation and the American Jewish Committee are calling for the premiere of Julian Schnabel’s new film Miral, which is due to take place tonight at the UN building in New York, to be cancelled due to its “clear political message which portrays Israel in a highly negative light”. In a letter to the president of the United Nations General Assembly, AJC executive director David Harris also called the screening a “one-sided event.”
Adapted by Rula Jebreal, from her own novel about her experiences as an orphaned Palestinian girl who grows up in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli war, the film stars Frieda Pinto, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave. It is due to have a limited theatrical release in the US on March 25.
Jewish director Schnabel, who shot the film entirely in Jerusalem, rejected the charge that Miral is biased against Israel.
“I love the State of Israel. I believe in it, and my film is about preserving it, not hurting it. Understanding is part of the Jewish way and Jewish people are supposed to be good listeners. But, if we don’t listen to the other side, we can never have peace. Instead of saying ‘no,’ I ask the AJC to say ‘yes,’ see Miral and join the discussion.”
The film’s producer Kilik said he was “surprised and saddened that the American Jewish Committee would pre-judge Miral and move to block the showing of the film.” He added: “We made this film in order to encourage the very dialogue that the AJC seems to want to prevent. We hope the AJC will come to the premiere instead of trying to cancel it.”
Screenwriter Jebreal said the film was anti-violence, not anti-Israel. “Miral is a story about human beings - Palestinian, Israeli, Muslim, Jewish and Christian - and it explores how we all react differently to the violence around us, whether physical, emotional, political or otherwise. It is a film about love, education, understanding, and peace. That seems like a good thing to show at the United Nations.”
Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing the film also released a statement saying: “As a Jewish American, I can categorically state that I would not be releasing a film that was flagrantly biased towards Israel or Judaism. Miral tells a story about a young Palestinian woman, but that does not make it a polemic.”