News / Arts & Entertainment

Schnabel Film Chronicles Lives of 4 Palestinian Women

American Jewish director hopes to spark dialogue for peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis

A scene from 'Miral'
A scene from 'Miral'
Penelope Poulou

Miral, a new film by acclaimed director Julian Schnabel, is based on a book by Palestinian author Rula Jebreal. It chronicles the lives of four Palestinian women - from 1948 when the state of Israel was created to the 1990s. Through the four women, and especially Miral, the youngest, the film tells the story of the ongoing Israeli - Palestinian conflict. Director Julian Schnabel, a Jewish American, looks at that conflict through Palestinian eyes and that has sparked controversy among Jews in America.

"We have children from every corner of Palestine," said Hind al-Husseini. "And every day there’s more. My goal is to educate these kids. And give them hope."

Hind al-Husseini is an upper class Palestinian. In 1948, she establishes a school in Jerusalem to shelter Palestinian girls whose parents have been killed in the conflict raging across the land. Hind is one of the four women showcased in this story.

"Miral! How nice to see you," she said. "Don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine."

Miral is the most prominent of the four. She grows up in the school in the eighties and early nineties during the first Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.  

Hind: "You might have heard that there is an uprising, what has been called the Intifada."

Miral: "It means stand up straight."

Miral joins the revolt and is arrested by Israeli police.

Police to Miral’s father: "Miral Shahin. Does she live here?"
Her father: "She is my daughter. There must be some mistake."
Police: "Call her please."
Father: "She is asleep. It’s very late."
Police: "Stay down. Stay down."  
Father: "I don’t understand."
Miral: "I am Miral Shahin."

Miral is taken away and tortured.

The story is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal, who also wrote the screenplay. She says Miral is an accurate account of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians since 1948.    

"It’s not that it happened and it’s over," said Rula Jebreal. "It’s still happening till today. Miral is not me anymore because I left and I built a life. But it’s the many girls that are still there. They are still going through the same violence, the same oppression, the same racism and if I had a moment of hope, it was the peace agreement [in 1993.] That hope was killed, broken."

Israel's government has not commented on the movie but it opposed the decision to hold the premiere at the United Nations General Assembly.

So did the American Jewish Committee, a major pro-Israel group.

Kenneth Bandler, Communications Director at the AJC, told VOA that the film is one-sided but that's not the major objection.  

"It’s one - sided which Julian Schnabel himself acknowledges it is a one-sided film," said Kenneth Bandler. "But again our objection was to its being screened at the General Assembly at the United Nations. We are not in the business of censoring films, and we’ve not spoken about it being shown in American theaters."

Julian Schnabel, the artist and award winning movie director who made the film, said the criticism is not his concern.

Sitting in a director’s chair at the Voice of America, in his signature pajamas, he explained why.  

"I understood at the beginning of this process that it would engender this kind of reaction because there’s never been a movie made in the United States by certainly an American Jewish director about a Palestinian girl and her point of view," said Julian Schnabel.

"Obviously there's a dialogue that needs to take place between the Jewish community in the United States and also in Israel because we need to solve this problem."

Schnabel says although the film has sparked controversy among Jewish Americans, Palestinians and Israelis share a common fear.    

"And that is, none of them are sure their kids are gonna come home from school at the end of the day, whether there is a terrorist that is going to blow some people up or whether it’s a straight bullet that’s gonna hit a kid from a scared soldier in the occupied territories," he said.

The characters that inhabit the story point to a diverse and complex Palestinian society. There are pacifists, militants, upright people and corrupt ones.

"We'll accept 22 percent of the land," said a Palestinian. "It's more than what we have now. We can't go on waiting forever."

The movie ends with the 1993 Oslo Accords that created a path to a Palestinian state.

In the film, Hind al Husseini, the founder of the school, tells Miral that she never thought she would see a Palestinian state.  She didn’t.

Schnabel says the ongoing conflict makes his film all the more relevant.

"We need to understand ‘the other.’ And that’s the reason I made the movie about ‘the other’ from ‘the other’s’ point of view," said Schnabel.

Peering through his glasses, he talks about how people in Egypt and Tunisia stood up peacefully for change.  He hopes his film sparks a dialogue that helps bring peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis.   

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – once for his work with The Hollies and once as part of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The legendary folk-rocker joins "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his latest project, “CSN 2012,” which captured on video recent live performances by Crosby, Stills & Nash.