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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Hizbollah criticises Lebanon decision to allow Spielberg film

'The Post' premiered in Beirut this week despite calls for a ban because of the director's links to Israel

Hizbollah is weighing in on a controversy in Lebanon about Steven Spielberg's newspaper drama "The Post," saying it was wrong to let it show in Lebanese theatres. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Hizbollah is weighing in on a controversy in Lebanon about Steven Spielberg's newspaper drama "The Post," saying it was wrong to let it show in Lebanese theatres. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Hizbollah criticised the Lebanese government on Friday for allowing cinemas to screen Stephen Spielberg’s film “The Post” despite calls for a ban because of the director’s links to Israel.

The movie premiered in Beirut this week after Lebanon’s interior ministry ruled against any ban.

Activists in Lebanon had campaigned against the film because of Spielberg’s ties to Israel, a country with which Lebanon is still officially at war.

“We reject this decision. We consider it a mistake,” said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed political and military movement.

“This man announced his support for the Israeli aggression against Lebanon,” he said in an address. “He paid Israel from his own money... to kill your children and destroy your houses.”

“The Post” dramatises the 1971 battle by American newspapers to publish leaked documents, known as the Pentagon Papers, about the US government’s role in the Vietnam War.

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Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri asked the interior ministry to ignore the recommendation from the General Security Directorate’s censorship committee to ban the film, according to Italia Film, the movie's Beirut-based Middle East distributor.

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. We are glad and pleased that justice, reason and love of cinema has prevailed, and we thank everyone involved in the strong lobbying done to clear an injustice."

It is believed the censorship committee objected to The Post because parts of another Spielberg blockbuster — the 1993 Oscar-winning Schindler's List — were shot in Jerusalem. Tensions have been heightened since United States president Donald Trump unilaterally declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month.

Spielberg is reportedly on an Arab League “blacklist” after the director personally gave a US$1 million (Dh3.7 million) donation to Israeli relief efforts following the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah, which has seats in the Lebanese parliament.

Most of Spielberg’s films since 2006 have been released in Lebanon, although his name was blacked out on posters advertising 2011's The Adventures of Tintin.