Lebanon bans Spielberg film and Israeli adventurer biopic

Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, it tells the nail-biting story of Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post, and her wrenching decision in 1971 to go public with the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing government lying and malfeasance in the Vietnam war.

Steven Spielberg's new movie "The Post" has been banned in Lebanon because of his links to Israel. Over the past three years, at least five films either directed or produced by Spielberg were accepted and approved by the Lebanese censorship board.

Wonder Woman could not dodge Lebanon's censors past year.

"We think this is not the right decision", he said.

"Why is The Post on the chopping block?" asked Gino Raidy of advocacy group March, on his blog.

"Jungle" is a survival drama about Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, who got lost in an uncharted part of the Bolivian Amazon in 1981. Director Ziad Doueiri, who is in the running for an Oscar for his latest film, The Insult, was detained on a recent trip back to his homeland because sections of his 2012 film The Attack had been filmed in Israel, in contravention of Lebanon's strict laws regarding their neighbours.

A leaked U.S. State Department memo from 2007 showed that the director was "blacklisted" by the Arab League for supporting Israel. Israel occupied large areas of southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000. Over 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 43 Israeli civilians died in the fighting.

Bassam Eid, product manager for Empire Cinemas in Lebanon and distributor of "The Post", said social media campaigns have started to put more pressure on Lebanon's government over films.

The country remains technically at war with its southern neighbour.

Lebanon is divided on the boycott-driven bans, with some welcoming them as a bulwark against the "cultural normalisation" of Israel's occupation.

Lebanon is widely seen as a relative bastion of free speech in the Middle East. A television talk show host, Marcel Ghanem, is being prosecuted for criticizing the judiciary. The 2015 movie "Spotlight", about the Boston Globe's investigation into the abuse of children by the Catholic clergy, was barred apparently because it cast the Catholic Church in a bad light (around half of Lebanon's population is Christian).

  • Kyle Peterson