January 29, 2006

Spielberg says filmmakers more politically active

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Steven Spielberg, whose
film about the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich
Olympics has provoked controversy, says moviemakers have become
much more politically vocal since the re-election of President
George W. Bush.

In a roundtable discussion with editors of Newsweek
magazine along with other nominees for the Directors Guild
award, Spielberg said, "Maybe I shouldn't get into this ... I
just feel that filmmakers are much more proactive since the
second Bush administration."

In remarks released by the magazine on Sunday, he said, "I
think that everybody is trying to declare their independence
and state their case for the things that we believe in. No one
is really representing us, so we're now representing our own
feelings, and we're trying to strike back."

Spielberg's film "Munich" has been a target for criticism
from both left and right because, as Spielberg has said, it
raises questions over the moral price Israel paid for targeting
the Palestinian guerillas who killed Israeli athletes.

Spielberg said he knew the film was going to "receive a
volley from the right," but he was surprised "that we received
a much smaller, but no less painful, volley from the left. It
made me feel a little more aware of the dogma, and the Luddite
position people take any time the Middle East is up for

Spielberg added many fundamentalists in his own community,
"the Jewish community, have grown very angry at me for allowing
the Palestinians simply to have dialogue and for allowing
(screenwriter and frequent critic of Israeli policies) Tony
Kushner to be the author of that dialogue. 'Munich' never once
attacks Israel, and barely criticizes Israel's policy of
counterviolence against violence."

He added, "It simply asks a plethora of questions. It's the
most questioning story I've ever had the honor to tell. For
that, we were accused of the sin of moral equivocation. Which,
of course, we didn't intend -- and we're not guilty of."

The Directors Guild award was given on Saturday night to
Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee for his gay cowboy romance
"Brokeback Mountain."

Also taking part in the discussion which will be published
on Monday in Newsweek were Bennett Miller, director of
"Capote," George Clooney, director of "Good Night, and Good
Luck," Lee and Paul Haggis, director of "Crash."

Asked if he was surprised that "Brokeback Mountain" did not
elicit more protest from the religious right, Lee said, "I
didn't know they would take a position of deliberate quietness,
so that they wouldn't (inadvertently) promote the movie."