Lebanon’s intelligence agency has banned Steven Spielberg’s latest film, political thriller “The Post,” and Australian drama “Jungle” to comply with a boycott of Israel, an official told AFP Monday.
“Screening of the film ‘The Post’ has been banned,” said the official from Lebanon’s General Security authority, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In addition to controlling borders, Lebanon’s General Security is responsible for censorship of films, plays, and books.
Spielberg “is blacklisted by the Arab League’s boycott office, which Lebanon complies with,” the official explained.
The Hollywood giant was blacklisted by the Cairo-based pan-Arab body after he donated $1 million to Israel during the 2006 war between the Jewish state and Lebanon.
The two countries are still officially at war.
According to a Sunday report by The Hollywood Reporter, Lebanon’s censorship board blocked “The Post” days before it was due to open on January 18 in Beirut because the Jewish director filmed some scenes of his magnum opus “Schindler’s List” in Jerusalem.
The matter was referred to Lebanon’s interior and municipalities minister who could overturn the decision.
A critically acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the political thriller recounts the nail-biting behind-the-scenes story of the 1971 publication by The Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the lies behind US involvement in the Vietnam War.
The other film that got the censorship axe was “Jungle,” a survival drama about Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, who got lost in an uncharted part of the Bolivian Amazon in 1981.
The film, starring Daniel Radcliffe, had been screening for two weeks in Lebanon but is now being pulled, the same official told AFP, explaining that the decision followed a number of complaints.
He did not specify their origin but a few days earlier the Lebanese branch of the Campaign to Boycott the Supporters of Israel issued a statement against “Jungle” because its main character is an Israeli, as is one of its producers.
A spokesperson for Spielberg said his company had not officially been notified of the ban, and therefore could not comment.
However, the spokesperson stressed that over the past three years at least five movies directed or produced by Spielberg were screened in Lebanon.
“Schindler’s List” itself was banned by many Arab and Islamic countries, including Lebanon, when it came out in 1993.
In a similar move in June, Lebanese authorities banned the “Wonder Woman” movie hours before it was due to premiere following a campaign against Israeli actress Gal Gadot.
The ban was in accordance with a decades-old law that boycotts Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling to Israel or having contacts with Israelis.
Agencies contributed to this report.