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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

'Girls' creator Lena Dunham to script Syrian refugee drama

Steven Spielberg and co-producer JJ Abrams have hired the writer and actress to adapt Melissa Fleming’s novel 'A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival'

Lena Dunham has only been hired to adapt the screenplay of the book 'A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival' AP
Lena Dunham has only been hired to adapt the screenplay of the book 'A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival' AP

Creator of TV Series Girls, Lena Dunham is to adapt the true story of a Syrian refugee who survived for two days in the Mediterranean with her children and only an inflatable ring for support after the ship she was travelling in capsized.

Steven Spielberg and co-producer JJ Abrams have hired the writer and actress to adapt Melissa Fleming’s novel A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival for the movie, which will be co-produced by Amblin Entertainment and Abrams’ Bad Robot. The film is expected to be co-distributed by Amblin and Paramount Pictures.

Fleming’s novel tells the true story of Doaa Al Zamel, a mother of two who fled the war in Syria for Sweden, only to find the boat carrying her rammed by a hostile Egyptian fishing vessel. Zamel’s husband, who had fled Syria alongside his family, died during the ordeal.

The internet has not been universally supportive of the decision. When Variety tweeted the news, a number of commentators were quick to point out that Dunham was perhaps not the ideal person to speak for Syrian refugees. “Who could understand the mind of a Syrian refugee better?” wondered Sam Wayne.

While Aristotle suggested there must be Syrian writers better suited to the task.

In a typical case of internet Chinese whispers, a number of Tweeters, such as Chelsi Dennis, criticised the idea of the white, middle class Dunham taking on the role of a Syrian refugee.

In fairness, Dunham has only been hired to adapt the screenplay, and no casting details have been announced as yet.

The outrage may have some basis, though the original novel’s author Fleming, a press and communications officer at the UN and Boston University journalism graduate is not exactly a Damascus native herself, though seems to have escaped the same level of criticism for her work.

Equally, Steven Zaillian, who adapted Australian novelist Thomas Keneally’s novel for Spielberg’s multi-Oscar-winning Schindler’s List, was born in 1953, so seems unlikely to have personally survived the Holocaust, so perhaps we should await the finished product before we make too many snap judgements.

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