Nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards were announced this morning and as has become somewhat of a common occurrence there was good news for Palestine. Following 5 Broken Cameras‘s nomination last year in the Feature Documentary category, Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar will represent Palestine in the Foreign Language Film category this year up against films from Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Cambodia.
The film’s distributor describes Omar as:
A tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar (Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he’s either a freedom fighter or a terrorist—you decide—ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game—is he playing his Israeli handler (Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side?
In his review of the film for Electronic Intifada Jonathan Cook wrote:
Two key themes reveal the deeper problems of the occupation for Palestinians, issues that no Palestinian film has tackled before with such sophistication and intensity.
The first concerns the construction by Israel of a series of cages for Palestinians, from the largest to the smallest — like Matryoshka dolls, nesting one inside the other until the tiniest is reached at the very center.
In the film, Omar moves through these cages: from the biggest, as a Palestinian living on the “Israeli” side of the wall, through to the more restrictive occupation on the other side of the wall, and on to various forms of more formal incarceration, culminating in the cell he shares with the insects.
Abu Assad does not hesitate to imply that, despite the changes of location, Omar’s freedom is never more than illusory. His fate is invariably in hands other than his own.
And in Oscar news a little closer to home, our very own Scott Roth served as Executive Producer on Jeremy Scahill’s film Dirty Wars which was nominated for best Documentary Feature. Congratulations Scott!
I haven’t run this by Scott yet but I’m assuming he will be okay with Mondo readers crowd sourcing his acceptance speech – share your thanks to the Academy in the comment section below!