A white-knuckle thriller that sees a young Palestinian try to evade the Israeli security services while earning the love of his girlfriend.
Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad makes a welcome return to form, and to the subject matter that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Paradise Now (2005), with Omar, a powerful love story set against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The titular Omar, in a star-making turn from Adam Bakri, is a thoughtful young baker in love with Nadia (Leem Lubany). When he agrees to go with Nadia’s brother Tarek (Ehab Hourani), a senior militant, and their mutual friend Amjad (Samer Bisharat) on a mission to kill an Israeli soldier, it’s partly to gain Tarek’s respect so that he can ask for Nadia’s hand in marriage. But that act of violence soon spirals out of control: Omar is arrested and tortured by Israeli forces, who attempt to turn him into a collaborator. Abu-Assad uses this tense set-up to fashion an ingenious twist on Othello that packs an unforgettable sting in the tail.
Hany Abu-Assad directed the oft-debated 2006 film Paradise Now, which won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and was also nominated for the Academy Award in the same category (representing Palestine). The story of two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Tel Aviv, Paradise Now made its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film, the Berliner Morgenpost Readers’ Prize and the Amnesty International Award for Best Film. Abu-Assad previously had an international hit with 2002’s Rana’s Wedding, the story of a young Jerusalem woman trying to get married before four o’ clock. The film was selected for the Cannes Critics Week and went on to win prizes at Montpellier, Marrakech, Bastia and Cologne. Abu-Assad’s other credits include 2011’s English-language The Courier, starring Jeffery Dean Morgan, Til Schweiger and Mickey Rourke, and the 2002 documentary Ford Transit, a portrait of a Ford Transit taxi driver and the resilient inhabitants of the Palestinian territories. Abu-Assad was born in Nazareth, Palestine, in 1961. After having studied and worked as an aircraft engineer in the Netherlands for several years, he entered the world of cinema as a producer. He produced the 1994 feature film Curfew, directed by Rashid Masharawi. In 1998, Abu-Assad directed his first feature, The 14th Chick, from a script by writer Arnon Grunberg.
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