Steven Spielberg to direct film about Jewish boy stolen from family


(JTA) — Steven Spielberg will direct a film about the struggle of 19th-century parents to regain their son who was forcibly taken to be raised as a Christian after secretly being baptized.

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

The 1997 book tells the story of a 6-year-old boy who was seized from his family’s home in 1858 after his baptism 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 their efforts to have him returned in a case that became an international cause celebre.

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

Mark Rylance, who starred in Spielberg’s last hit, “Bridge of Spies,” and won an Academy Award for best supporting actor, is set to play Pope Pius IX.

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