Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Director: Omar is a love story

Director Hany Abu-Assad uses political upheaval between Palestinians and Israel as the backdrop to a love story in Omar (AP)

Director Hany Abu-Assad has said his film Omar is a love story first and foremost, despite the Palestinian conflict being a key part of the plot.

The film, which is being shown in the A Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, is set in the West Bank.

Omar, plated by Adam Bakri, must climb the separation wall between the Palestinian territories and Israel to see his lover, and during one attempt, he is brutally attacked by an Israeli soldier. Afterwards, he and his friends band together to kill an Israeli soldier in revenge.

But Abu-Assad said: "I don't know anybody in this world who didn't enter the experience of being madly in love with someone. Me too. And I am always fascinated by how people lose themselves in this subject and how they become insecure. Actual insecurity is the reason why people are in love, but also why this love ends up very badly," he said.

"All love stories in history end up tragic, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, but also like in our modern history, Casablanca, even the Titanic you know, it is a tragic ending. In The Mood For Love, that is a great love story.

"All of these examples gave me the inspiration to do something about my version of love and betrayal but involved in a political thriller because I love political thrillers. These two genres I tried to mix in a way that could become an exceptional movie."

And the film's star Bakri, agrees the location or political motif is not that important.

"The fact is that it is an international story, it happens in the West Bank but it doesn't even say in the film that it happens in the West Bank," he explained.

"So everybody can identify with it. Everybody can really go with it. I think it has a very strong political message but it is underneath, it is not straightforward, which I think is the genius of the film."

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