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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."