Julian Schnabel's film Miral based on his Palestinian partner's biographical book was screened at the ongoing Venice Film Fest.
The film is about the lives of four Arab-Israeli women spanning three generations against the backdrop of a conflict. The film has a clear political message and points to the role of education in bridging ethnic, religious and political divides.
Screening in competition section, the film is a screen adaptation of a 2003 book by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian who grew up in east Jerusalem and later moved to Italy to become the first foreign anchor woman for the evening news.
This is the fourth directorial venture by Schnabel, an acclaimed American-Jewish painter. At a press conference, he said that his knowledge about the Palestinian people was limited until he until he read Jebreal's book. He described the shooting experience in Israel an eye-opener. Jebreal said that each story in her book is true, though she changed names and combined events and personalities.
Jebreal tells her own story through Miral, played by Slumdog Millionaire actor Freida Pinto, who ends up at Hind Husseini's school set up in the 1940s and meant for the orphaned Arab children. When Miral is sent to teach at a Palestinian refugee camp, she finds herself torn between joining the Intifada or following Husseini's role model.
She said that the story is of a great land and a little girl who grows up and survives this conflict simply because she had somebody who helped her, and there are many, many young people out there seeking and wanting this help.
Schnabel, who won the best director award in Cannes and at the Golden Globes for his 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, said his mother had taught him the same values that Husseini instilled in the young Jebreal.