Spielberg to direct film about Jewish boy secretly baptized and stolen from family

Marcy Oster, JTA

Steven Spielberg will direct a new movie about a 19th century parents’ struggle to regain the son that was forcibly taken to be raised as a Christian after secretly being bapitized.

The script for “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” was written by Tony-Award winner American playwright Tony Kushner, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-Award winner David Kertzer.

The non-fiction book written in 1997 tells the story of the six-year-old boy who was seized from his family’s home in 1858, after being secretly baptized as an infant by the family’s serving girl. The family went up against Pope Pius IX, who took a personal interest in the boy, in order to get him returned in a case that became an international cause célèbre.

Spielberg, who is Jewish, “has been attached to this film for some time,” Variety reported.


Kushner is a member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group which supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, though Kushner has said he does not personally support BDS.  Kusher has said Israel committed “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians during its 1948 War of Independence and in 2010 he supported 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights who refused to work at a new theatre in Ariel, one of Israel’s largest settlements in the West Bank.

Mark Rylance, who starred in Spielberg’s last hit, “Bridge of Spies,” and won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, is set to play Pope Pius IX.

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