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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.