Legendary Movie Mogul Harvey Weinstein to Direct Film on Warsaw Ghetto Revolt
Jewish Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has announced that he will produce and direct a film about the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Weinstein made his announcement in an article published by the Deadline Hollywood website, in which he wrote that his connection to the memory of the Holocaust was “personal” because he “lost eight great aunts and uncles to Auschwitz.”
While on a trip to Israel as a child, Weinstein was given the Leon Uris-authored book Mila 18, which depicts the Warsaw Ghetto revolt.
“It’s the story of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto,” the 65-year-old Weinstein wrote. “It’s the triumph of a few Jewish rebels (men and women) who think they’re going to die and instead defeat thousands of German soldiers in the ghetto, and half of them escaped. I’ve already started to talk to people about it after delaying it for so many years. I am now committed.”
Beginning as distributors of small, low-budget independent films, Weinstein and his brother Bob conquered Hollywood with their company Miramax and later The Weinstein Company. They have won a plethora of Oscars, including Best Picture for films like Shakespeare in Love; fostered blockbusters like Scream; launched the careers of dozens of filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith; and made stars of actors like Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, among others.
Weinstein’s personal friend, artist Ron Agam, confirmed in an interview with The Algemeiner on Tuesday that Weinstein will be directing Mila 18, the first time he has gone behind the camera since 1986.
Agam said that a film of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt has been on Weinstein’s mind for decades. “This is a book that he had as a young man, and I think it marked him very seriously,” Agam stated. “This is something that was always in his head to one day do this movie. And he was a great admirer of Leon Uris as well. I guess it was always in his consciousness to do it.”
In particular, Agam believes Weinstein was motivated by the recent death of his mother. “His mother was a big Zionist,” Agam said, “and I think it’s possible that this is also a tribute to his parents, to his family. Sometimes you can’t explain these things, but he was interviewed at the 92nd Street Y with his brother a few months ago just after his mother passed away. The interviewer asked him so many questions about his life and then he came out and said this is a project that he really cares to do and this is Mila 18.”
The project is also deeply connected to Weinstein’s Jewish identity, Agam noted. “Harvey admires the heroism of what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto,” he noted. “You know there’s two events in Jewish life that are markedly different. This is Masada and the Warsaw Ghetto revolt, where Jews showed their heroism in the worst of times. I think he was very impressed by this.”
Agam also related the subject to Weinstein’s famously pugnacious personality, saying, “You know Harvey is a bit of a tough guy also, and he sees that revolt as something that inspired him when he was a younger man. Harvey is a fighter, and I think that there is some sort of a connection. Harvey likes strong Jews.”
Asked if Weinstein had a strong Jewish identity, Agam replied, “Oh yes! You know, the core values that Harvey has are totally Jewish values. Look at his trajectory in life, and see where he came from and where he is today. If that’s not Jewish I don’t know what is Jewish.”
In addition, Agam asserted that Weinstein was more deeply committed to Judaism and the Jewish people than many realized. “Every time Jews were attacked or Jews had to fight a fight and they needed Harvey’s help he was always there,” he said. “Sometimes he acted behind the scenes but he’s always there. Always at the forefront.”
Mila 18, Agam predicted, will be a major cinematic event. “This movie is really very important to him,” Agam said. “I know he told it to me so many times and it will be an extraordinary project. You have to expect that you will see something incredible coming out from his mind and from his experience.”