Hany Abu-Assad’s ‘Omar’ bags Oscar nomination for Palestine

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Omar Official U.S. Trailer – af from Adopt Films on Vimeo.

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!

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Wonderful news! Congrats to Scott!

This is not meant glibly, but the best stories grow out of the harshest of circumstances. Hollywood is going to realize that Palestine is a gold mine for both.

The trailer is intense.

Congrats and good luck to everyone.

Good news. Congratulations to Scott and to Scahill. I just finished his eponymous book. Did I use that word correctly? Here is something ironic. The writers of a Times of Israel piece seem to want to claim “Omar” as an Israeli movie. There’s been more than a little discussion over the fact that Abu-Assad’s film is considered Palestinian, and not Israeli. Having been filmed in Nazareth, an Israeli town, and with several Israeli Arab cast… Read more »

Such terrific news. It’s been too long coming, but nobody and nothing can keep the brilliance and resilience of the indigenous Palestinians from emerging again and again, and getting the deserved accolades that they so deserve!

I am in awe of their strength and beauty and steadfastness.

The nutso Zionists will be sidelined, hanging on to their pants and their hats, and little more.

Great news, not just for the attention it will likely bring to the cause but also because it’s a great film. The final scene had everyone in the cinema jumping out of their seats when I saw it.