Lebanon reverses move to ban Spielberg’s ‘The Post’
BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese authorities have reversed a decision to ban Steven Spielberg’s newspaper drama “The Post” ahead of its opening in theaters across the country, a local cinema manager said Wednesday.
Lebanese censorship authorities had recommended the ban because the director is blacklisted by the Arab League over his support for Israel. After two months of marketing the film, theaters had taken the posters down and rolled back plans for a premiere.
Isaac Fahed, sales and distribution manager of the Grand Cinemas chain, one of Lebanon’s largest, said the film will open in theaters on Thursday after “mediation” between the distributor and the Interior Ministry. He declined to elaborate.
Lebanese officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Censorship authorities had recommended the ban, which required the interior minister’s approval. The reversal of the ban is unusual. Lebanon is technically at war with Israel, and the movement to boycott Israel enjoys wide support in the country.
Fahed said the reversal was good news for the cultural scene in Lebanon as well as the boycott movement.
“It is not a commercial film and not an action film,” Fahed said, adding that they were not expecting it to be a box office hit. “It is (good) for freedom of cinema and culture and for being fair and just in our defense against Israel and Zionism. There is an efficient way, not a stone age way.
“We are at war with the Israeli government, not with Jewish people or their ideology,” he said.
Lebanon officially follows an Arab League blacklist against supporters of Israel and organizations and companies seen as promoting or doing business with the country. A leaked U.S. State Department memo from 2007 revealed that Spielberg was blacklisted by the League for donating $1 million to Israel for reconstruction during its 2006 war with Lebanon.
“The Post” is being shown in other Arab countries, where there have been no calls to boycott it.
The film, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, tells the story of the Washington Post’s efforts to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents that revealed the failures of the U.S. war in Vietnam.