Julian Schnabel: Miral

A Film by Alison Chernick


The Acclaimed Director Holds Forth on His Most Controversial Film Yet

Julian Schnabel pushes dialogue as a catalyst for peace in the Middle East in today's film. At his extravagant West Village Palazzo Chupi the Oscar-nominated director and impasto titan sat down with filmmaker and NOWNESS contributor Alison Chernick to ruminate on his latest epic, Miral, which focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As ambitious as it is provocative, the film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by the Jewish director's Italian-Palestinian girlfriend Rula Jebreal, an author and former news anchor who adapted her book for the screen. The plot turns on the experiences of a young Palestinian girl (played by Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto) who comes of age in a Dar al-Tifl orphanage in Jerusalem and finds herself torn between the radical activism of her lover and the peace and education espoused by her teachers; Stella Schnabel, Vanessa Redgrave and Willem Dafoe also feature in the movie, which premiered earlier this month at the United Nations. Feted for such experimental films as The Diving Bell and Butterfly, Basquiat and Before Night Falls, Schnabel has been the target of criticism for pursuing a Palestinian perspective in Miral--a good thing according to the filmmaker, who insists that resolution will only be reached through honest discussion.