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'Slumdog Millionaire' Star to Act in New Palestinian Film

posted on: Jul 23, 2009

'Slumdog Millionaire' Star to Act in New Palestinian Film

BY: Ameera David/Contributing Writer

When Slumdog Millionaire (2008) took both an Academy Award and Oscar for Best Picture, lead actress Frieda Pinto was thrust into stardom overnight. She immediately became the new vanguard of Indian pride and the beauty that won America’s heart. With the many opportunities knocking at her door after a successful year, Pinto chose to undertake a Palestinian role in Miral (2010), based on a book by Italo-Palestinian Rula Jebreal.

Miral (2010) is based on a true story carefully highlighting the life of Palestinian activist, Hind Husseini. The film’s backdrop follows the immediate wake of the 1948 partition of Palestine and creation of the Israeli state. In that year, Husseini stumbled upon a group of homeless children, whom she later learned were orphans of the Deir Yassin massacre. From 1948 onwards, Husseini began establishing Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi, an orphanage that served as refuge and later a school for the children.

It is unclear whether the ‘Slumdog’ beauty will play Husseini’s character or rather a supporting role. However, Pinto is reportedly taking her transformation into a Palestinian woman very seriously. As soon as she heard about her character, she insisted that Julian Schnabel, the Oscar-nominated director, get a private tutor so that she could learn the Arabic language and perfect her dialogue delivery.

Pinto will be sharing the screen with two familiar Arab faces– that of Hiam Abbas, known for her roles in The Visitor (2008) and Paradise Now(2005) as well as Yasmine Al Massri who played in Caramel (2007). In addition, Willem Defoe, made famous by his part as the villain in Spiderman (2002), will act in a non-Arab role. With a star studded cast and a notable director, anticipation is fervently building for the film’s 2010 release. Shooting is currently underway in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank.