Artist-turned-filmmaker Julian Schanabel has launched an attack on the U.S. censors who have given his new movie "Miral" an 'R' rating, insisting the film is too important for such a restrictive tag. The Oscar-nominated director of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" has written an essay for blog site TheHuffingtonPost arguing officials at the Motion Picture Association of America have missed the point of his new film, which stars Indian actress Freida Pinto as a conflicted Palestinian girl growing up in Israel.
He writes, "The extraordinary revolution we've witnessed in places like Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya has awakened the optimist in all those who work for peace and freedom. This movement has happened, in large part, due to brave, educated young people taking control of their lives and embracing democracy in a deeply inspiring way. This is their moment in time. And their actions will lead to a positive transformation of a very volatile region.
He adds, "As a filmmaker, I wanted to open a dialogue with young people in the U.S. about one complicated and often misunderstood part of the region... Our film, based on Rula Jebreal's novel, tells the story of Miral, a young Palestinian girl... who grows up in East Jerusalem against the backdrop of war and occupation. From the age of five, Miral is raised at Dar El-Tifel, Hind Husseini's orphanage and school, where she is taught that education is the only way toward lasting peace. As she moves into young adulthood, Miral gradually awakens to her people's struggle and ultimately must choose between a path of violence or a path of peace.
Moreover he says, "As a father of five, I made 'Miral' for young people. The heart of this story is all about the lasting impact of education and the journey of a relatable main character, who tries on several different approaches to solve the problems in her life, including violence, but in the end, falls back on the ideals she learned as a child."
"This is, in my humble opinion, an exemplary message for our time, especially for young people - whether they live in Brooklyn, Jerusalem, or anywhere in between. This is why I was shocked and saddened when the MPAA awarded 'Miral' an 'R'... rating. As a filmmaker, I took great pains to tailor 'Miral' to the intended audience and frame this material appropriately within the guidelines of a PG-13 rating. I made very clear aesthetic choices so we feel the impact but never see anything that could be construed as problematic or gratuitous. It was the first time where I was conscious of the MPAA during the filmmaking process, and steered clear of anything that might result in an 'R' rating," he said.