Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin turned out to support to director Julian Schnabel on Monday, March 14, as he premiered his politically-charged new film at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The movie, based on the life of Schnabel's Palestinian girlfriend, Rula Jebreal, and adapted from her 2004 novel of the same name, stars Freida Pinto as a conflicted Palestinian girl growing up in Israel.
Schnabel's plans for the U.S. screening came under attack from Jewish leaders, who called on U.N. officials to axe the premiere. They claimed it was "clearly a politicized decision" to screen "Miral" in the General Assembly hall, showing "poor judgment and a lack of even-handedness". But U.N. General Assembly President Joseph Deiss dismissed the criticism and allowed Schnabel to press ahead with his big night.
Before the star-studded screening, the filmmaker defended his movie and urged critics to check out the picture before writing it off as an anti-Israeli film. He said, "I love the State of Israel. I believe in it, and my film is about preserving it, not hurting it."
"Understanding is part of the Jewish way and Jewish people are supposed to be good listeners. But, if we don't listen to the other side, we can never have peace. It is a film about love, education, understanding and peace. That seems like a good thing to show at the United Nations."
Last week Schnabel fought U.S. censors over their decision to give the film a restrictive 'R' rating. He won on appeal and the politically-charged drama will now be released as a PG-13 movie.