Film brings lives of Palestinian women to Venice

Thu Sep 2, 2010 12:29pm EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - The lives of four Arab-Israeli women spanning three generations against the backdrop of conflict are at the center of "Miral," a film by Julian Schnabel based on his Palestinian partner's biographical book.

From the 1948 creation of the Jewish state to the 1993 Oslo accords that briefly raised hopes of peace in the Middle East, the film has a clear political message and points to the role of education in bridging ethnic, religious and political divides.

Screening in competition at the Venice film festival, it is an adaptation of a 2003 book by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian who grew up in east Jerusalem and later moved to Italy where she became the first foreign anchor woman for the evening news.

Schnabel, an acclaimed American-Jewish painter here directing his fourth film, did not know much about Palestinian people until he read Jebreal's book and said that shooting the film with her in Israel was an eye-opening experience.

"I felt I was a pretty good person to tell the story of the other side... I am not a politician or a statesman but I can't see how an artist could do any worse than politicians have done so far," he told reporters after a press screening on Thursday.

"I don't see painting as being decorative and I don't make films necessarily as entertainment ... in order for me to make a movie it's usually I feel a responsibility to that subject and something that I'll come out to learn about myself."

Jebreal said that each story in her book is true, though she changed names and combined events and personalities.

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