ROME – A ban in Lebanon on Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” was overruled Wednesday by Prime Minister Saad Hariri in what appears to be the first time a film has surmounted a negative recommendation by Lebanese censors.
Distributor Italia Film, which is handling “The Post” in Lebanon, called the reversal “a big victory” and said they expect to release the Spielberg real-life newspaper drama Thursday as planned.
The Lebanese censorship board had recommended that “The Post” be banned, citing a “boycott Israel” list that includes Spielberg because his Oscar-winning 1993 Holocaust film “Schindler’s List” shot some scenes in Jerusalem. The ban recommendation is also believed to have been made because Spielberg is blacklisted by the Arab League for reportedly donating $1 million to relief efforts in Israel in 2016 during its war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and has a boycott again Israel in place.
Hariri asked Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouk to ignore the recommendation from the General Security Directorate’s censorship committee to ban the film, according to an Italia Film spokesman.
The spokesman noted that, following “Schindler’s List,” other Spielberg movies have been regularly released in Lebanon. He said that that they are still waiting to get final clearance for “The Post” release.
“We are glad and pleased that justice, reason, and love of cinema has prevailed,” the spokesman said, adding that he wanted to “thank everyone involved in the strong, united large popular support movement,” including press, bloggers, and other opinion-makers who rallied in support of “The Post” after news of the ban broke.
The failed attempt to ban “The Post” comes after Lebanese censors earlier this month forced Daniel Radcliffe-starrer “The Jungle,” about Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, to be pulled from local cinemas after it had been screening for two weeks. Last May, “Wonder Woman” was banned only about two hours before the film was scheduled to screen in the country’s movie theaters; the film’s lead actress, Gal Gadot, is Israeli.
And last September, French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri was detained at Beirut airport and subsequently questioned by a military tribunal in an apparent attempt to suppress his film “The Insult,” which is on this year’s foreign-language Oscar shortlist. Doueiri was questioned about his previous film, “The Attack,” which was partly shot in Israel. “The Insult” was released in Lebanon by Italia Film.