Steven Spielberg got some unexpected news in regards to his latest Oscar hopeful. His new movie The Post, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, has just been banned in Lebanon, a source close to the project has revealed. The movie was presented to the Lebanese censorship board, which banned it, citing a "boycott Israel" list that includes Spielberg due to his Oscar-winning Holocaust movie Schindler's List, because the 1993 movie shot scenes in Jerusalem. However, the decision may be overturned when it reaches Lebanon's Minister of Interior and Municipalities, who will have the final say in the matter.

Wonder Woman was also banned in Lebanon over the summer due to star Gal Gadot being a former member of the Israeli Army, which is required of all Israeli citizens. Lebanon and Israel are currently at war with each other, leading to all kinds of artistic controversy of musicians performing concerts in Israel all the way to what movies and television programs are allowed to be shown. The Hollywood Reporter's source says the move came as a shock, given that over the past three years, at least five movies either directed or produced by Steven Spielberg were accepted and approved by the censorship board and it is only now that it is invoking Spielberg's inclusion on the "boycott Israel" list.

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Italia Film was set to release The Post in Lebanon on January 18th, 2018. A spokesperson for Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment says that they cannot comment because the company has not been told officially by the Lebanese distributor that the movie will not be released there because of censorship at this time, which makes sense. As previously noted, The Post still has to go through Lebanon's Minister of Interior and Municipalities, who will have the final say in the matter. It is unclear at this time if the ban will last, but it looks like Lebanon is intent on making a point with The Post, which may have to do with the theme of freedom of speech as well.

The Post has also received some minor controversy in the United States. Donald Trump's White House requested a screening copy after learning that Steven Spielberg made the movie as a direct response to the attacks on the press and media that have come from the White House over the course of Trump's first year in office. The movie takes place in the early 1970s and chronicles the Washington Post's fight to publish the Pentagon Papers after the Nixon administration fought to keep them classified. Overall, the movie is about the protection of the first amendment, which has proven to be controversial at this point in time.

The Post is currently in theaters in the United States where it's slowly building up some momentum at the box office. Many were stunned to see that Steven Spielberg's latest didn't take home a heap of Golden Globes last weekend, especially since the movie stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. However, the Academy Awards are just around the corner and The Post expects to take home some prizes on that evening. You can read more about Lebanon banning The Post courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick