Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
09:28 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Film
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Palestine’s tragic Oscar hopeful tests identity, ideas
Reuters
A+ A-

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The complexities and contradictions of the Middle East conflict come into play in both the real-life production story and fictional plot of “Omar,” Palestine’s contender for a best foreign language film Oscar.

The movie’s director and lead actors are ’48 Palestinians. While it depicts lovers literally walled-off by Israel’s West Bank barrier, and a hero brutalized by Israeli secret police, the $2 million drama was filmed mostly in Nazareth, northern Israel.

“Whatever we wanted, we could shoot,” writer-director Hany Abu-Assad said in a telephone interview. “And this is a great attitude. I think [Israeli authorities] were smart to do that, because every journalist will ask me, ‘How was your shoot?’ and I have no stories to tell.”

There is no conciliatory spirit in “Omar.” The film looks at the grind of life under Israeli military occupation. A young Palestinian lethally lashes out at the army and is pressured to spy on his own side or end up in prison with no prospects of marrying the woman he loves.

Betrayal – and the perception of betrayal – follow, with bleak and bloody consequences – a plot which Abu-Assad says was inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello.”

“The problem of Othello was his insecurity,” he said. “When you are insecure, you start to believe the unbelievable. When you are in paranoia, you can’t make rational decisions.

“I think we all have this moment in life,” he continued, “unless you live in this luxury where you don’t have to live under extreme pressure, and then we feel the powerlessness of our existence. We Palestinians know that.”

“Omar” is Abu-Assad’s second Oscar nomination.

His previous entry, the 2005 thriller “Paradise Now,” is a sympathetic depiction of two Palestinian suicide bombers. It infuriated many Israelis, some of whom complained to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It did not win.

Almagor, an Israeli group representing those bereaved or wounded by Palestinian attacks, says it will lobby against “Omar.” Abu-Assad thinks such censure is misplaced, especially as his latest film is less overtly polemical.

“The movie is really about what happens in your friendship and love when you do actions that can affect that and how you do the balance between your duty and desire,” Abu-Assad said.

“A movie should show you what you don’t like, also. I mean, we should discuss this,” he said. “Nobody agrees with the actions of ‘The Godfather,’ yes? But still we appreciate that movie because it lets us see the picture from a different point of view. If this will threaten your ideas, then there is something wrong with your ideas.”

Describing himself as Palestinian – like many most of Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority – the 52-year-old Abu-Assad declined to speak Hebrew at the Tel Aviv screening of “Omar.”

“I want [Israeli Jews] to make the same effort to understand me,” Abu-Assad said, “as I will do to understand them.”

Some 95 percent of the film’s $2 million budget, he said, was raised from Palestinian businesspeople, the rest coming from Dubai.

Israel’s entry for the Oscars, “Bethlehem,” which also deals with West Bank espionage, did not make the short list.

“I am against how [most Israelis] see this conflict. They don’t want to accept the idea that they are the occupier,” he said. “But [‘Bethlehem’] was very interesting for me. It wasn’t just an entertaining and good movie. Politically, it was mind-opening.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 30, 2014, on page 16.
Home Film
 
     
 
Palestine / Israel
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
The complexities and contradictions of the Middle East conflict come into play in both the real-life production story and fictional plot of "Omar," Palestine's contender for a best foreign language film Oscar.

The movie's director and lead actors are '48 Palestinians. While it depicts lovers literally walled-off by Israel's West Bank barrier, and a hero brutalized by Israeli secret police, the $2 million drama was filmed mostly in Nazareth, northern Israel.

"Omar" is Abu-Assad's second Oscar nomination.

Almagor, an Israeli group representing those bereaved or wounded by Palestinian attacks, says it will lobby against "Omar". Abu-Assad thinks such censure is misplaced, especially as his latest film is less overtly polemical.

Describing himself as Palestinian – like many most of Israel's 20 percent Arab minority – the 52-year-old Abu-Assad declined to speak Hebrew at the Tel Aviv screening of "Omar".
Related Articles
 
 
Some drama off-camera in Mideast conflict film
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Wednesday, April 23, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS