“Miral” Director Julian Schnabel on Making it Up as He Goes

Considering that filmmaking is Julian Schnabel's second career, the painter has cultivated a pretty extraordinary body of work.

Following the critically-acclaimed "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Before Night Falls" and "Basquiat," his latest effort, "Miral" continues the artist's obsession with crafting images and themes that can either confound and befuddle, or settle like snowflakes of incredible beauty and delicacy.

"I just make it up as I go along," Schnabel admits to PopcornBiz one blustery afternoon in Los Angeles.

Speaking in ten-minute long stream of consciousness soliloquies that lurch and leap, much like his films, Schnabel explains, "When I'm making a movie, I like to not know where I'm going along. I let it take me." He says he focuses on "an accumulation of images, a gestalt that I deposit in [the audience]."

"Miral," based on Rula Jebreal's novel of her diaries as a young Palestinian woman growing up in East Jerusalem, has yet to arrive in theaters but has already stirred a boiling pot of controversy, inciting backlash from the Israeli community and earning praise from Palestinians.  While Schnabel insists the movie is without agenda, over the course of the hour Popcorn Biz spent with him, he read multiple letters from pro-Palestinian supports calling him the new "spokesman" for their cause.

Asked if he's comfortable with the title, Schnabel says, "I don't have anything to add. I don't know enough to be a spokesperson." Instead, he says he'd like his film to be viewed as a message of empathy, one that's "Gandhi-esque."

"Miral" opens March 25.

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