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

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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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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29 Responses

  1. Cliff
    Cliff
    January 16, 2014, 3:26 pm

    Wonderful news! Congrats to Scott!

    • January 16, 2014, 4:36 pm

      with roth as a big executive producer maybe you guys won’t have to ask us for donations anymore

  2. ritzl
    ritzl
    January 16, 2014, 3:32 pm

    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.

    • Susan Johnson
      Susan Johnson
      January 16, 2014, 3:49 pm

      It sounded so terrific to here the announcer say Palestine. I believe there was a bit of a hesitation before it was said.
      Things seem to be moving forward…let’s fast forward

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        January 16, 2014, 10:39 pm

        Yes. Didn’t know until you brought it up, the Academy is now officially using Palestine instead of “Palestinian Territories.” Cool. Cool. Cool.

  3. Ira Glunts
    Ira Glunts
    January 16, 2014, 4:28 pm

    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 members — including Adam Bakri, who plays the title role of Omar, and Leem Lubany, who plays Nadja, his love interest — some local media outlets have consistently pointed out the movie’s Israeli roots. But it’s 100% Palestinian, Abu-Assad insists.

    And Abu Assad is a Palestinian Israeli. He does not live in Israel but grew up there and is an Israeli citizen. Still, I don’t think we will be hearing to many complaints about it not being labelled Israeli.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-film-gets-academy-award-nomination/

    The actual Israeli entry, “Bethlehem,” was also about a Palestinian collaborator. Does that make the nomination sweeter?
    From the same article:

    It’s a movie that’s remarkably similar in theme to “Bethlehem,” the Israeli film that was also hotly tipped to earn a nomination but was cut from the running when the list was whittled down to nine contenders in late December. Both films were acquired for US distribution by New York distributor Adopt Films.

    This from the Israeli business website, Globes. They are taking the nomination of Omar personally.

    The Palestinian film “Omar” will compete for the prize for foreign film, after it defeated the Israeli “Bethlehem,” which was about the relations between the Israeli Security Services and the Palestinian population in the territories. It will compete against …. [Trans. and emphasis, mine, IG]

    http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000910236

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      January 16, 2014, 5:13 pm

      “Here is something ironic. The writers of a Times of Israel piece seem to want to claim ‘Omar’ as an Israeli movie.”

      So much for the “Israel-is-the-Jewish-State” idea, eh?

    • Mikhael
      Mikhael
      January 17, 2014, 6:29 am

      It was written, produced and directed by an Israeli citizen, had a cast and crew mostly composed of Israeli citizens (of Arab and Jewish ethnicity) and was shot on location in Israel. That would make it in an Israeli film.

      • adele
        adele
        January 17, 2014, 12:38 pm

        Mikhael,
        First of all, the director identifies himself as Palestinian, not Arab. Israel cannot steal his identity just because it stole his land. Your deflecting strategy has been attempted countless times before by other hasbarists and has continuously failed. You can repeat it as many times as you like but it will not blot out the truth of how Israel has, and continues to, perpetrate ethnic cleansing.

        Furthermore, Arab is not considered a nationality, it is an ethnic group. Someone from Jordan may be an Arab ethnically but their nationality remains Jordanian, and so on for Egyptians, Iraqis, Syrians, Qataris, Omanis, Kuwaitis, etc. Similar in concept to how French, Italians, Spaniards, Germans, etc are Europeans but nationally are identified by their respective and sovereign nations. I could go on and on with examples.

        I suggest you do further reading on the topic of pan-ethnic groupings so that your contributions are more constructive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panethnicity

      • just
        just
        January 17, 2014, 7:34 pm

        Well and elegantly said, adele.

      • adele
        adele
        January 18, 2014, 12:08 pm

        Thank you Monsieur Just :-)

      • Mikhael
        Mikhael
        January 21, 2014, 12:15 am

        adele says:
        January 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        Mikhael,
        First of all, the director identifies himself as Palestinian, not Arab.

        “Palestinian” is a political identity, not an ethnic identity. However, it is a political identity that in the last few decades has come to be defined within the context of Arabness. The opening lines of the Palestine National Charter read as follows:

        “Article 1:

        Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation. ”

        Israel cannot steal his identity just because it stole his land

        I’m not sure how calling an Arab an Arab (even if he has adopted a “Palestinian” political identity for himself) is tantamount to stealing his identity, and since he’s still living as a free citizen in Israel, he can;t very well make a solid claim of having “his” land stolen.

        Furthermore, Arab is not considered a nationality, it is an ethnic group.

        I guess there’s no such thing as pan-Arab nationalism (wattaniyeh) then. This would have been a big surprise to people like Michel Aflaq.

        Someone from Jordan may be an Arab ethnically but their nationality remains Jordanian

        Their citizenship and political identity can be Jordanian, but “Jordanian,” like “Palestinian” is a national construct of recent vintage.

      • just
        just
        January 17, 2014, 7:32 pm

        Mikhael– bwahahahahahahaha! You cannot claim it when the very makers of the film say it is a PALESTINIAN film.

        Zionists will steal ANYTHING!

        Congratulations to all who made “Omar”, and to Scahill and Scott and the many others who made “Dirty Wars”!

        I wish both films great success and “wins”! You’ve already accomplished very much with the nominations. Many thanks.

      • Mikhael
        Mikhael
        January 21, 2014, 12:30 am

        just says:
        January 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm

        Mikhael– bwahahahahahahaha! You cannot claim it when the very makers of the film say it is a PALESTINIAN film.

        It has nothing to do with “Zionists” trying to take credit for the film, which of course has an explicitly anti-Israel message (like many films produced in Israel). Believe me, “Zionists” do not want credit for this movie. The fact remains, however, that it was a film made by Israeli citizens, with a crew composed of Israeli citizens (some of Arab ethnicity, some of Jewish ethnicity) , and shot IN ISRAEL. Whatever the identity politics the producers of the film endorse, that still makes it an Israeli film. When a film is produced, directed, written, financed and shot by people who are citizens of a state called “Palestine” in a state called “Palestine” then maybe they can call it a Palestinian film. If Scorcese defined Mean Streets as an Italian, rather, an American, film, Of course, there is a history of Palestinian cinema. Palestinian cinema existed from the 1930s until 1948. The very first “Palestinian” film was a Zionist affair. It was called Oded ha Noded, directed by Haim haLahmi, a Jewish citizen of the British Mandate of Palestine. As a film produced in the Palestine Mandate, by definition it was a Palestinian film.

      • talknic
        talknic
        January 17, 2014, 7:58 pm

        @ Mikhael “It was written, produced and directed by an Israeli citizen, had a cast and crew mostly composed of Israeli citizens (of Arab and Jewish ethnicity) and was shot on location in Israel. That would make it in an Israeli film”

        There’s no such thing as Israeli nationality according to the Israeli Supreme Court http://www.timesofisrael.com/supreme-court-rejects-israeli-nationality-status/

      • just
        just
        January 17, 2014, 8:04 pm

        kerpow! All of a sudden Mikhael wants to claim even Arabs as Israelis. You can’t make this stuff up!!! If “Omar” had not been nominated, we would hear nothing…

        (thanks, talknic)

      • Mikhael
        Mikhael
        January 21, 2014, 12:45 am

        just says:
        January 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm

        kerpow! All of a sudden Mikhael wants to claim even Arabs as Israelis

        Has nothing to do with what I “want”. Someone who has an Israeli passport and identity card, no matter if that person is of Jewish, Arab, Circassian, Muslim, Christian, Druze nationality, or an ethnic Russian non-Jew who obtained Israeli citizenship when he/she emigrated to Israel with a Jewish spouse from the former USSR is by definition legally an Israeli. I have no interest in claiming Mr abu Assad’s film, promoting it or denigrating it, I’m just pointing out that a film made in Israel by Israeli citizens is an Israeli film, no matter the politics of its makers. Hypothetically, if there would be a film promoting a Mexican nationalist message written, directed and produced by Mexican-American citizens of the US in LA, it would still technically be an American film, even if its makers identify as Mexicans.

      • Mikhael
        Mikhael
        January 21, 2014, 12:35 am

        talknic says:
        January 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        There’s no such thing as Israeli nationality according to the Israeli Supreme Court

        Where did you see me use the words “Israeli nationality”? I quite clearly wrote “Israeli citizens“.
        In Israel, we have citizens of Jewish, Arab and other nationalities. Mr abu Assad is a citizen of Israel and the Netherlands. The film was filmed in Israel and used a cast and crew almost entirely composed of Israeli citizens.

  4. just
    just
    January 16, 2014, 8:32 pm

    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.

  5. Djinn
    Djinn
    January 16, 2014, 10:58 pm

    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.

  6. American
    American
    January 17, 2014, 12:39 am

    ‘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!>>>

    Wow, I am impressed, learn more about the talent circling around Mondo every day….Congratulations Scott.

  7. Taxi
    Taxi
    January 17, 2014, 1:16 am

    Great News, folks! Academy drops ‘territories’ in Palestine reference.
    “After hearing the news of his latest nomination and how it was identified, Abu-Assad said Thursday that having the academy refer to his entry as being from Palestine was a step in the right direction”.

    http://news.yahoo.com/academy-drops-39-territories-39-palestine-reference-212805058.html

  8. American
    American
    January 17, 2014, 1:57 am

    This also tickles me to death….it is sooooooooo refreshing to see some lead Jews also ridicule the anti semite scare mongering. If we can ever lay that baby to rest then we can get down to actually talking about the real nitty gritty issues of and in the Jewish State and debating the real conflicts and causes of between Jewish and/or Jewish Pro Israel and Zionist interest vr others interest in a rational and completely honest way.

    Scott Roth ‏@scottroth76 ·Jan 15
    OMG! How anti-Semitic! Bet 100 bucks someone from ADL gets a letter printed re this oped. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/opinion/keep-pollard-behind-bars.html?from=opinion …Expand Collapse Reply Retweet Retweeted

  9. yrn
    yrn
    January 17, 2014, 4:00 am

    who is “our very own Scott Roth”
    Does he belong to the tribe of the AntiZio’s , do you own him.

  10. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1
    January 17, 2014, 9:04 am

    Another good news: Not only in cinema, but also in Hi Tech, Israeli Palestinians are in very successful:

    (Hebrew);
    http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3621852,00.html?dcRef=ynet

    • MahaneYehude1
      MahaneYehude1
      January 17, 2014, 9:22 am

      Translation of two paragraph from the Calcalist:

      There is no precise data on the number of Arabs in Israeli high-tech industry. In recent years more young Arabs studying science and technology. 20 % of students at the Technion, the institution that 70% of the founders and managers of high-tech industry are his graduates, are Arabs. But not only the Technion. According to CBS data, between years 1990 and 2012 the number of the Arab students who study technological and scientific subjects at universities increased by 260 % .

      According to Zoffen, an organization that deals with Arabs training and placement in high tech, the domestic industry currently has 1200 employees, an increase of 240% in five years. Karin Meyer – Rubinstein, CEO of IATI , Israeli Association for advanced industries, talks about higher numbers than above: “There are about 100 start – ups with Arab entrepreneur or owning Arabic, 1500-1700 workers across the industry, and 100 million Shekel invested to date in Arab companies. “Something moving” she added.

  11. riyadh
    riyadh
    January 17, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Wow. Omar looks like a great thriller. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it until now.

  12. MLE
    MLE
    January 17, 2014, 1:57 pm

    I’m just sad wadjda got shut out of the nominations. It was a great movie

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