If you have driven to Jerusalem, you may have noticed a number of rusted metal hulks by the road as you pass through the Judean hills. These are the remains of homemade armored supply trucks, left where they were destroyed, to serve as memorials to the convoys that forced their way through Arab blockades to feed the 100,000 Jews of Jerusalem during the siege of 1947-48.
In an early scene in “Miral,” the new film by artist-filmmaker Julian Schnabel opening March 25, a Palestinian activist named Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) comes across a ragtag group of about 50 children in Jerusalem’s Old City, many of them crying, trembling, dirty, barefoot, their hair matted and faces traumatized. The oldest is a girl of around 12, who explains that, the night before, the children had barely escaped a fiery rampage that destroyed their homes. They are alone, hungry and terrified.
Julian Schnabel must have known that screening a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations General Assembly would be scene-stealing. To set the town talking, the event would unite all the trappings — provocative subject matter, prestigious venue, Hollywood glamour.
Israel is protesting the screening of a controversial film on the Israel-Palestinian conflict in the main hall of the United Nations General Assembly. The screening Monday evening will be the U.S. premiere of the film "Miral" by award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel. "Miral" is based on the 2004 autobiographical novel by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal that traces the Arab-Israeli conflict after 1948 from the perspective of a Palestinian orphan. Jebreal and Schnabel are a couple.
After some relatively lean years, Hollywood's Jewish talent made a solid showing as nominations for the 80th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday. The biggest winners were brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, whose thriller "No Country for Old Men" earned seven nominations, while Daniel Day-Lewis, son of British Jewish actress Jill Balcon, qualified in the best actor category.
I don't recall anyone ever classifying Schnabel as a "Jewish artist" -- even if his mother was a Hadassah president and his father an active member of B'nai B'rith. Unlike the parody of pushy Jewish parents aiming their son at medical school, Schnabel says that his parents encouraged him to do anything he wanted -- which may explain a kind of restlessness as an artist that sometimes feels like a lack of focus, and an oeuvre of uneven quality and interest. But if the result is a work of art as accomplished as Schnabel's latest film, then such antsy-ness is laudable.