TWC takes on ‘Miral’

Schnabel movie to open later this year

The Weinstein Co. has snagged North American rights to “Miral,” the Julian Schnabel film toplined by Freida Pinto.

TWC aims to release the pic — which some had expected to bow at Cannes, but now is tipped for an end-of-summer bow at Venice — later this year, but has not set an exact date. Timing seems to suggest an awards push, given the high profile of its creatives and its politically charged subject matter.

Movie revolves around a real-life orphanage established in Jerusalem by Palestinian woman Hind Husseini (played by Hiam Abbass) following the 1948 creation of Israel. In the fictional storyline, the title character (Pinto) is sent to the orphanage in 1978. Later in life, she goes to teach at a refugee camp and falls for an activist.

Movie, which also stars Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave, is based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, who also penned the screenplay. Palestinian-born scribe is also a well-known broadcast news personality in Italy.

Produced by longtime Schnabel producer Jon Kilik, “Miral” reunites the helmer with the Weinstein brothers, who worked with the helmer on his first film, “Basquiat,” when the duo topped Miramax. “Miral” is the first pickup for TWC in the wake of the company’s reportedly stalled talks to acquire Miramax from Disney.

Pathe, which holds worldwide rights to the pic, has sold the movie in several other international territories.

Harvey Weinstein made the acquisition, in a deal brokered by TWC’s Peter Lawson and Laine Kline and Pathe’s Cameron McCracken and Pierre du Plessis.

“It is the first film I am involved in that shows the ‘other side’ of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Harvey Weinstein said. “As a staunch supporter of Israel, I thought this would be a movie I would have a hard time wrapping my head around. However, meeting Rula moved me to open my heart and mind and I hope we can do that same with audiences worldwide.”

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