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Spielberg in Malta

07.01.2005

Steven Spielberg news article pic Now that Steven Spielberg has got the sci fi alien invasion epic out of his system, he's officially moved on to his long-in-development project about the 1972 Munich Olympics where a Mossad (Israeli secret service) agent tracks Palestinians who assassinated Israeli athletes. The New York Times recently revealed that Spielberg had "secretly" started filming with a cast including Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler and Ciaran Hinds. A film involving obviously sensitive material is sure to cause some controversy and The Times chronicles Spielberg's attempt to curtail that backlash by creating a film that maintains a neutral perspective while preserving its emotional resonance. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full article. Unfortunately, you have to register in order to view the article but it doesn't take too long and its free so get your asses registered already! The currently untitled flick is scheduled for release December 23rd.

On Wednesday, Steven Spielberg's apocalyptic thriller "War of the Worlds" invaded movie theaters worldwide. But the director had already moved on. That night in Malta, Mr. Spielberg quietly began filming the most politically charged project he has yet attempted: the tale of a secret Mossad hit squad ordered to assassinate Palestinian terrorists after the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

But with the as-yet-untitled Munich film, already scheduled for Oscar-season release by Universal Pictures on Dec. 23, Mr. Spielberg is tackling material delicate enough that he and his advisers are concerned about adverse effects on matters as weighty as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process if his project is mishandled - or misconstrued in the public mind.

Indeed, the movie's terrain is so packed with potential land mines that, associates say, Mr. Spielberg has sought counsel from advisers ranging from his own rabbi to the former American diplomat Dennis Ross, who in turn has alerted Israeli government officials to the film's thrust. Mr. Spielberg has also shown the script to Mr. Ross's old boss, former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton's aides said Mr. Spielberg reached out to him first more than a year ago and again as recently as Tuesday. Mr. Spielberg is also being advised by Mike McCurry, Mr. Clinton's White House spokesman, and Allan Mayer, a Hollywood spokesman who specializes in crisis communications.

The film, which is being written by the playwright Tony Kushner - it is his first feature screenplay - begins with the killing of 11 Israeli athletes in Munich. But it focuses on the Israeli retaliation: the assassinations, ordered by Prime Minister Golda Meir, of Palestinians identified by Israeli intelligence as terrorists, including some who were not directly implicated in the Olympic massacre. By highlighting such a morally vexing and endlessly debated chapter in Israeli history - one that introduced the still-controversial Israeli tactic now known as targeted killings - Mr. Spielberg could jeopardize his tremendous stature among Jews both in the United States and in Israel.

He earned that prestige largely for his treatment of the Holocaust in "Schindler's List" and for his philanthropic efforts, through the Shoah Foundation, to preserve testimonies of survivors of the concentration camps. Until now, though, he has been relatively quiet on Middle East politics compared with more vocal American supporters of Israel.

Making matters more complicated, an important source for Mr. Spielberg's narrative is a 1984 book by George Jonas, "Vengeance," based largely on the account of a purported member of the Mossad's assassination team, whose veracity was later widely called into question.

Friends of Mr. Spielberg said he was keenly aware that admirers of his Holocaust work could misunderstand his new film and regard it as hurtful to Israel. And they noted that he had never before courted controversy so openly. "A lot of people around him never thought he'd make the movie," said one associate, who asked not to be identified, in keeping with Mr. Spielberg's preference for secrecy.

Typically, Mr. Spielberg keeps a tight lid on information about coming projects, and he has been especially careful to do so this time. He has revealed that the film will star Eric Bana as the lead Israeli assassin, along with Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler and Ciaran Hinds. The director released a short statement simultaneously this week to The New York Times, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv and the Arab television network Al Arabiya, but he turned down requests for an interview and declined through a spokesman to answer written questions.

In the statement, Mr. Spielberg called the Munich attack - which was carried out by Black September, an arm of the P.L.O.'s Fatah organization - and the Israeli response "a defining moment in the modern history of the Middle East."

Again, full article is HERE.

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Source: NY Times

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