'The Fablemans': Steven Spielberg's new film gets personal

Nancy Spielberg: "The film is based loosely on Steven’s and our childhood and yet the messaging will reach far and wide. It is heartbreaking yet promising. It is funny, sweet, sad."

 STEVEN SPIELBERG (photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)
STEVEN SPIELBERG
(photo credit: MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

Steven Spielberg’s next film is based on his own early years and billed as a “deeply personal portrait of 20th-century American childhood.” 

The Fablemans will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, before its general release to theaters in November, Variety reported.

The Fabelmans’ ensemble cast includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Jeannie Berlin, Julia Butters, Robin Bartlett, Keeley Karsten and Judd Hirsch.

The official synopsis for the movie from TIFF reads: “The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age story about a young man’s discovery of a shattering family secret and an exploration of the power of movies to help us see the truth about each other and ourselves.”

Director Steven Spielberg poses at the premiere of the HBO documentary film 'Spielberg' in Los Angeles, California, US. (credit: REUTERS)Director Steven Spielberg poses at the premiere of the HBO documentary film 'Spielberg' in Los Angeles, California, US. (credit: REUTERS)

Nancy Spielberg gives it a double thumbs-up

One person who’s seen the film, and is portrayed in it – Spielberg’s youngest sister, documentary filmmaker Nancy Spielberg – gave it a double thumbs-up.

The film is based loosely on Steven’s and our childhood and yet the messaging will reach far and wide. It is heartbreaking yet promising. It is funny, sweet, sad. There are no villains here. No bad guys. Just a family with a lot of love for each other struggling through some monumental shifts,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

“There is so much authenticity woven throughout that it had me yearning for our parents and yearning for our childhood with big fat hot tears rolling down my cheeks. My parents are looking down at their four children and kvelling.”

Spielberg cowrote the script with his Lincoln, Munich and West Side Story screenwriter Tony Kushner, and the film is produced by Kristie Macosko Krieger, Spielberg and Kushner.

The Spielberg family’s iconic matriarch, Leah Adler, who died in 2017, is portrayed by Williams, who told Variety she was surprised to be approached for the role.

“My phone beeped, and I had a message that Steven wanted to talk to me,” Williams said of landing the role. “I couldn’t comprehend that he might want to work with me. I thought he had a question or something. Then he got on the Zoom and told me that he wanted me to play this person, his mama.”

The young Nancy Spielberg is being portrayed by newcomer Sophia Kopera, also a plus in Nancy Spielberg’s view.

“She’s so much cuter than I ever was.”