UN Hosts Star-Studded “Miral” Premiere

Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin were among the stars at the United Nations Monday night for the U.S. premiere of the new film "Miral."

The film was written by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal and directed by Julian Schnabel, best known for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

“Slumdog Millionaire” actress Freida Pinto stars as Miral, a young Palestinian woman who grows up in an orphanage in Jerusalem and learns to face the effects of occupation and war.

The orphanage in the film is based on one where Jebreal herself was raised, and many of the events that take place occurred in her own life.

“I felt that this story was not told, not heard, absent totally for the American audience,” Jebreal told Niteside. “For 60 years we listened to the other side, and this story was taboo.”

Some Jewish groups have protested the film, claiming that it was anti-Israel. Jebreal took the opportunity to respond to those critics.

“The only thing that the film is against is violence from any side," Jebreal said. "And it’s promoting peace and dialogue.”

Jebreal said she hoped to highlight the importance of education, which she believes is key to solving the Middle East’s problems.

“All my life, I have wanted to speak about this issue. Education is a key solution. Without people having access to education, there’s no way you can have peace in the Middle East. I’m so glad Julian came and made this movie — it put a spotlight on everything I care about.”

Schnabel said that he made the film to add a moderate voice to a highly-charged debate.

“Civil society is being held hostage by maniacs on both sides, and sane people in the middle people — like all the people working on this film — want peace,” he said. “Unfortunately, the people that scream the loudest aren’t always the most sane.”

“You have to stand up and say ‘Hey, there are people over there, and they’re human beings.’ I haven’t seen any movies about young Palestinian girls, so I thought it’d be good for a 59-year-old Jewish guy to tell a story like that.”

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