A Minute With: Julian Schnabel on Palestinian film

Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:04am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Julian Schnabel, maker of films such as "Basquiat", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "Before Night Falls", says his latest film is the one he most wants people to see and could be his last.

In the film, "Miral," starring Freida Pinto and set to open in the United States on Friday, Schnabel tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by adapting the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian journalist who grew up in east Jerusalem.

The film has had some positive outcomes for Schnabel, 59, who is Jewish. It recently scored a PG-13 rating and Jebreal, 37, is now his girlfriend. But the film received a lackluster response at film festivals last year and has been reedited.

Schnabel, a director and painter, talked to Reuters about the story of three generations of Palestinian women and the backlash by some U.S. Jewish groups who consider it anti-Israeli.

Q. Is the film's subject a career killer or courageous?

A. "Is this courageous? It's natural and a normal thing to do. Somebody once said to me I was brave or the way that I was painting was brave, I didn't know how to do it another way, I don't think I am brave."

Q. Describe the storyline in your words?

A. "I am telling the story through the point of view of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl and it's really a movie about women and how women are the recipient of the largest difficulties in the middle of a conflict.   Continued...

<p>Director Julian Schnabel arrives for the premiere of "The Tourist" in New York December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>