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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”