Avraham "Yair" Stern
Avraham "Yair" SternIsrael news photo: file

Avraham "Yair" Stern, famed pre-state freedom fighter of the Lehi underground, warred against the dark British occupation. Now he will alight the silver screen.

"The Promised Land", a movie about Lehi's campaign against British occupation in the Land of Israel during the British Mandate, will star British actor Colin Firth as Lehi founder, leader, and martyr Yair Stern. Firth is 49 years old.

The Lehi, also known as the "Stern Gang", was the most anti-British of  the four major Jewish underground movements prior to the creation of a Jewish state in 1948.  While the Haganah, Palmach, and even Irgun supported the British during their campaign against Germany in World War II, the Lehi continued to fight against British colonialism in Israel. After the war, the Irgun resumed clandestine warfare against the British.

Stern was murdered in 1942 by British officers who found him in his hideout, handcuffed him, and then shot him to death. He was 35 years old.

The movie will be directed by British director Michael Winterbottom, and premier in 2011.

In an interview with Ynet, Winterbottom expressed his interest in educating Britons about their history in Israel, saying he believes the British Mandate period has ramifications today.

Online paper Earthtimes reports that Stern's only son, Yair, a former head of Israel Television who was born after his father's murder, said he was "happy the film was being made," but thought it was "unsuitable" to cast a British actor to play his father's part.