A Geopolitical Twist in the Foreign Film Race

Believing: Hany Abu-Assad's Omar Gets Standing Ovation in Cannes

It is said that a great film should make you walk out of the cinema feeling like a better person. But with his latest oeuvre Omar, Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad made me want to be a better person.

Omar also left me yearning for a world where I wouldn't form a preconceived opinion of a character based on his nationality, where neighbors would not be separated by walls built by governments and where the young and hopeful wouldn't be penalized for being what makes them perfectly human -- young and hopeful.

The most brilliant aspect of Abu-Assad's masterpiece -- a word thrown around a lot in conversations all around Cannes after its world premiere in the "Un Certain Regard" section, but also how Omar star Adam Bakri perfectly sums up the film -- is the intentionally blurred line that divides good from evil, present within every richly constructed character in Abu-Assad's original story. While real life is always lived in varied shades of grey, I find most filmmakers shy away from the complex challenges constructing such human characters would create within a script.

Palestinian film on love and occupation breaks new ground at Cannes

'Omar', a political thriller by director Hany Abu-Assad, is the first film to be fully funded by the Palestinian cinema industry.

By Reuters | May 21, 2013 | 1:21 AM | 9

A tragic love story between two Palestinians living under Israeli occupation received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival on Monday and broke new ground as the first film fully funded by the Palestinian cinema industry.

"Omar" by director Hany Abu-Assad, known for the 2005 award-winning film "Paradise Now", is a political thriller interwoven with a story of trust and betrayal as two lovers are torn apart by Israel's secret police and Palestinian "freedom fighters."

Omar, a baker, is in love with Nadia, the sister of his friend Tarek who is a Palestinian fighter on the West Bank.

Arrested and humiliated by the Israeli military police, Omar, played by Adam Bakri, joins Tarek and colleague Amjad in a mission to kill an Israeli soldier and ends up imprisoned, tortured, and under pressure to betray his friends.