Julian Schnabel's provocative movie about coming of age in the Palestinian Territories has ignited a furor even before going into wide release. "Miral," shown Monday in a premiere screening at the U.N. General Assembly Hall, has drawn praise for its unflinching portrayal of life in partitioned Israel and condemnation as a slanted view of Mideast history.

The painter-turned-filmmaker, who won a Golden Globe and the Cannes Film Festival's director's prize for 2007's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," was on hand Friday to introduce his film at its Walker Art Center-area debut, and will discuss his work in a sold-out Regis Dialogue at the Walker cinema at 8 p.m. Saturday.

In an interview beforehand, he said he hoped "Miral," based on Rula Jebreal's novel/memoir of her conflict-torn youth in an Arab orphanage, would open a dialogue about Israel's policies toward its Arab residents. He likened the situation to apartheid. While traveling in Israel during the production, Schnabel passed freely through airport security while Jubreal, his girlfriend, was subjected to three X-ray scans and a body search. "As a Jew, I felt ashamed," he said. "Making art is making peace. It requires people to engage the world in a new way. ... All the horrible things we've done to each other, and tit-for-tat doesn't work." "Miral," starring "Slumdog Millionaire" star Freida Pinto, is scheduled to open in Twin Cities theaters April 1.