Lena Dunham is adapting a Syrian refugee story for Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, and people aren’t happy

Melissa Fleming's 'A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea' tells the true story of a teen refugee

Lena Dunham is set to write the screenplay for a film adaptation of a Syrian refugee story for Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by UN High Commissioner Melissa Fleming tells the true story of Doaa Al-Zamel, who fled Syria in 2011 when civil war broke out.

“Very lucky to have this job, to tell this story, to support this truth with these people,” Dunham tweeted earlier today (October 29). Fleming added: “And I feel very lucky to have the remarkable @lenadunham adapting my book, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea to a screenplay, and the masters, Steven Spielberg & J.J. Abrams making it into a film.”


Not everyone’s response was so positive, however. Some Twitter users pointed out that hiring a white woman to tell the story of a Syrian refugee was inappropriate. “@lenadunham constantly talks about representation as crucial to enrich storytelling,” wrote journalist Daniel Medina.

“Yet, in practice, she has shown a disregard for actually elevating those voices. Now, she’s been signed on to write a Syrian refugee’s story? Hollywood, was no female Arab writer available?”

@BougieLa added: “I don’t know why you think that you’re an appropriate person to tell this story. The Middle East is full of writers, directors, and producers.”

Others suggested the Girls creator involve “as many Syrians and refugees as possible”, while some pointed out Dunham was far from “the first hollywood screenwriter to adapt a book about someone who isn’t like her” and noted the lack of criticism being aimed at Spielberg and Abrams. See those and more reactions in the Twitter moment above.


Meanwhile, next month (November 18), Dunham will host a “psychological exploration” of Liam and Noel Gallagher.

The event will reportedly see the actor and writer be joined by musician Ben Lee and other special guests for Oasis-related performances and readings.