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Freida Pinto appears in a scene from the 2011 movie Miral. - Provided courtesy of Weinstein Company / Sony Pictures Classics

Freida Pinto is Palestinian teen in 'Miral'

Get more: Movies
03/25/2011 by Corinne Heller

Freida Pinto of the 2008 Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" plays a teenage Palestinian girl in "Miral," a new film that is already raising eyebrows.

In the movie, which opened on Friday, March 25, the story of several generations of Palestinian women is told from the perspective of Pinto's character, who witnessed the first Palestinian uprising against Israel in the late 1980s.

Earlier this month, "Miral" was screened at the United Nations General Assembly. After the screening, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, called the movie a "pro-Palestinian film."

The Anti-Defamation League, which aims to "fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry," also condemned the use of the UN as a venue for the film and said the storyline of "Miral" "distorts historical facts about Israel in some instances, and in others lacks any context for some of the acts attributed to Israel."

Director Julian Schnabel, who is Jewish, say he thought "Palestinians were the enemy" before he made the movie, which contains a scene that shows Pinto's character being beaten in an Israeli jail.

"The concept of having an even hand, to make something more balanced - I don't think that's the job of an artist," Schnabel told the New York Times.

"What I'm doing here is telling this story from the point of view of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl," Schnabel said. "And I thought that would be an interesting thing for a 59-year-old Jewish guy to do. I think Freida's super-talented. She looked like Rula."

Schnabel based the movie on the life of Palestinian-Italian journalist Rula Jebreal, his girlfriend. The two met in 2007 when he was still married to his second wife.

The movie also stars Alexander Siddig, who appeared in the movie "Syriana" and played Dr. Bashir in the series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." He portrays Miral's father, who urges Miral to avoid becoming radicalized after Miral becomes romantically involved with an extremist.

Pinto, a 26-year-old Indian actress, also recently filmed "Rise of the Apes," a prequel to the hit "Planet of the Apes" movie franchise. The new film stars James Franco, John Lithgow and "Harry Potter" actor Tom Felton and is set for release on November 23.

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