Lebanon bans Spielberg's new movie over director's link to Israel

Film review The Post

The Washington Post, the paper at the heart of Spielberg's movie, notes that the filmmaker was put on the Arab League blacklist of sanctioned individuals after his foundation donated $1M to relief efforts in Israel during its 2006 war with Hezbollah.

The film will be released on January 18th in Lebanon.

With less fanfare, the movie "Jungle", starring Daniel Radcliffe, was banned in December because the story of survival in the Bolivian jungle was based on the autobiography of an Israeli citizen, Yossi Ghinsberg.

The ban comes after Lebanon outlawed the screening of Wonder Woman in May a year ago. It seems that anything remotely connected to Israel can get banned in Lebanon.

The move is a curious one, as other recent films by Spielberg - who is Jewish - have been shown in Lebanon, though his name was blacked out from movie posters advertising "The Adventures of Tin Tin". Over the last three years, at least five movies he either directed or produced have been approved for distribution in Lebanon, including such global hits as BFG and Bridge of Spies.

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Lebanon will let cinemas show Stephen Spielberg's latest film "The Post" after the interior minister ruled on Wednesday against a request to ban it over the director's links to Israel. Israel occupied large areas of southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000.

There are no direct flights between the two countries because of these tensions and Lebanese citizens are banned from contact with Israelis. In 2015, Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, posed for a photo with Miss Israel, Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia, causing a huge outcry. The human rights tracking organization Freedom House rates Lebanon 44 out of 100 for overall freedom, ahead of Saudi Arabia (10), Jordan (37), Syria (1), and Iran (17).

Hariri, who recently returned to his role after a brief and weird resignation involving Saudi Arabia, asked the Interior Ministry not to implement the ban, said a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Italia Film's marketing manager, Carlo Vincenti, told The National that Mr Hariri had intervened following growing pressure on social media: "This is a big victory as it is the first time in Lebanon that a [prospective] ban on a movie is reversed".

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