Schnabel’s ‘Miral’ pleads for Middle East peace

Pic turns on scribe Jebreal's childhood experiences

As President Obama attempts to re-launch a Middle East peace process, more than one question at the press conference for Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” world preeming at Venice in competition today, is likely to turn on Schnabel and screenwriter Rula Jebreal’s solutions for harmony in the region.

Many are provided by the film, a personal vision of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

” ‘Miral’ is really about humanity, people being kind,” Schnabel said in an interview in Paris, just before Venice.

“I believe there is ultimately a kindness in humanity that fights against ideology. That’s really the film’s message,” he added.

Schnabel’s fifth feature is also, he added, a “poem” and a “call for peace,” detailing the tragic consequences of violence, domestic and sexual abuse and regional conflict.

Film centers on Miral, a Palestinian girl who loses her mother at the age of five and is sent to Jerusalem’s Dar Al-Tifel Institute, a school and orphanage.

Her narrative is preceded by the stories of three other women: Hind Husseini, who founded Dar Al-Tifel in 1948; Nadia, Miral’s mother, who committed suicide; and Fatima, a nurse who planted a bomb in a Jerusalem cinema.

Jebreal herself grew up at Dar Al-Tifel and the film is an adaptation of her book of the same title.

“Miral goes through many episodes I witnessed directly. Others happened to girls I knew,” she said.