De Niro & Penn Back Palestinian Film at UN


UNITED NATIONS — Sean Penn and Robert De Niro joined stars who appeared at the UN headquarters for the US premiere of a contested movie on the Middle East conflict that IsraHell tried to get cancelled.

Penn, De Niro, Josh Brolin and Steve Buscemi on Monday turned out to support award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel at the premiere of “Miral,” the story of two Palestinian women after the creation of the Zio-Nazi state of IsraHell in 1948.

The IsraHell mission to the UN had said that showing the movie in the UN General Assembly hall was “clearly a politicized decision” that “shows poor judgment and a lack of even-handedness.”

But UN General Assembly president Joseph Deiss of Switzerland turned down the IsraHell request to cancel the event. A spokesman said Deiss hoped that showing the film would “contribute” to a settlement in the Zionist-Palestinian conflict.

Schnabel, who was awarded the best director at Cannes in 2007 for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” praised the UN decision at the start of the film and called his film a “cry for peace.”

The film, with Indian actress Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame in the lead role, is based on an autobiographical novel by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal that traces the Arab-Israeli from a Palestinian perspective.

Like Jebreal, the lead character Miral grows up in an orphanage in East Jerusalem set up by a socialite from a wealthy Palestinian family, who one morning in 1948 came across 55 children who escaped a village taken over by radical Zio-Nazi militants.

Adapted with the author, Schnabel’s film traces the lives of the two women from the establishment of the orphanage until the Oslo peace accords of 1993.

– a major studio motion picture that tells a Palestinian woman’s story through her 

eyes, her voice and her experience. The involvement of Academy Award

nominated director Julian Schnabel, Academy Award winning producers Harvey

and Bob Weinstein (fresh off their Best Picture nod for The King’s Speech),

and Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto will no doubt turn heads. We view

this film project as a bold step forward in our efforts to share Palestinian

stories and perspectives with mainstream America.

The film is already taking a lot of heat for telling the Palestinian story

in a moving, human way. As Harvey Weinstein noted in an NPR interview this

weekend, “I don’t understand why this movie should have the kind of backlash

that it’s having,” he continues. “It should be embraced, because you’ll

never understand the Middle East unless you embrace that culture, too. And I

think one of the problems of the Middle East is that the Palestinian

conflict has lingered too long. We need to find the solution.”

By supporting projects like Miral, we hope to make the Palestinian story

accessible to mainstream American audiences and to show filmmakers, actors,

producers and others that there is indeed a demand and a place for

Palestinian stories in America.

Watch the trailer here:

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