There has been alot of controversy surrounding Julian Schnabels new film ‘Miral,’ many are outraged and view the film as pro-Palestine. Interview magazine have presented an interview with Schnabel and NOWNESS have presented a fascinating video with the director. Watch and read and decide for yourself whether the film is a pro-Palestinian tale or merely a talented visionary sharing the story of a young Palestinian girl dealing with a conflict inherited by past generations. The film opens in cinemas today.
LORRAINE CWELICH: What compelled you to make this film and tell this story?
JULIAN SCHNABEL: I felt somebody had to do it. I didn’t know anything about it, really, and through the reading of Rula’s book, I thought telling the story of a Palestinian girl would be something worth doing and something I hadn’t done before was to tell a story about women, from their point of view. As a Jewish person also, I felt that we need to listen to the other side, to try to have more humanity and empathy.
CWELICH: What message do you want the audience to take from this film?
SCHNABEL: I think the film is a poem; it’s a cry for peace. We have to look at people as human beings and think of people not as groups and statistics but as personal stories, a family; all Palestinians are not the same; all Israelis are not the same. There are many different stories to be told, but I’m just trying to tell this one story, which touched me personally and I tried to be accurate with that.
CWELICH: Are you in favor of two separate states or one state?
SCHNABEL: I don’t care if it’s one state or two states; there’s not very much left. The movie said 22%; there’s not 5% left now. That’s about demographics. People just have to live together. When we made this movie, there were Israelis and Palestinians who worked together and they do, every day. There are Israelis and Palestinians who both want peace. And there are Palestinians and Israelis who are both fanatics and that should not be in charge. We’ve seen this great non-violent revolution going on in Egypt and parts of the Middle East and it should happen everywhere.
CWELICH: How do you respond to the controversy of the critics who say the film is pro-Palestinian?
SCHNABEL: It is a Palestinian story about Palestinian people. Do they have a right to have their story told? I think so. Do Palestinians deserve to live? Yes. To live with dignity and respect and safety, security and flourish and have what we have here? Yes. To have homes? Yes. It is the point of view of a 17-year-old girl; it is her vision, her story, her diary. When I told Jean-Do’s story in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, it was Jean-Do’s experience; it’s Reinaldo Arenas’ experience, it’s Jean-Michel Basquiat’s experience, it’s Miral’s experience. It’s not Miriam’s experience, who is her Jewish counterpart.
CWELICH: It’s interesting that all your films have been biographies, loosely based on real people, rather than fictional characters.
SCHNABEL: Well, they are portraits more than biographies. I would have made a movie of [Patrick Süskind's novel] Perfume; I had written a script for that and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was a fictional character, but he was as real to me as Jean-Dominique Bauby [in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly].