Palestine Vies for Oscar With ‘Omar’

Director Hany Abu-Assad Discusses Love Story Amid Conflict

Palestinian Passion: Adam Bakri and Leem Lubany share a moment in ‘Omar.’
Adopt Films
Palestinian Passion: Adam Bakri and Leem Lubany share a moment in ‘Omar.’

By Sheerly Avni

Published March 02, 2014, issue of February 28, 2014.

(page 3 of 3)

In “Paradise Now,” the actors were quite young as well, but that film was in many ways more overtly political, at least in terms of political discussion. Why is there less discussion in “Omar”?

I think that “Omar” is a more mature film, and it concerns itself more with human emotions. And yes, it’s boring to have two characters talk about politics onscreen, so I have less of that in this film. And as an artist, as a filmmaker, I try to be independent of politics. I want to make a movie that will outlast the conflict. Because this conflict will end — one state, two states, 20 states, 100 states, it doesn’t matter — it will end. The conflict will die. You don’t want your movie to die along with the conflict!

“Bethlehem,” which was directed by an Israeli and which treats a very similar agent-asset relationship, also features a teenaged protagonist. What kinds of differences and similarities do you see between your film and “Bethlehem”?

My film deals with the inner conflict generated by a love story, which is quite different from “Bethlehem.” But I liked it very much, and I also liked the fact that it gave me an opportunity to see how the Israelis see this conflict, how difficult it is for them to accept that they are occupiers. Even for a good person — and of course most Israelis are good people — it’s hard to admit: “Even if I am against the army, I am still the occupier. Even if I am left-wing, and I want good things for the Palestinians, I am an occupier.” You might think, “Oh no I’m not one of them,” but you are one of them. Because you are an Israeli.

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