I saw Omar this Sunday at Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau, at a special screening arranged to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
I had almost no idea what to expect (such as it obviously being in Arabic) and rather belatedly thought to prepare myself for an emotional onslaught. I needn’t have tried as this artistic movie was a thought-provoking drama.
On a superficial level Omar is a love story, based on two close friends (Omar and Amjad) affections for a Nadia (the sister of their third best friend, Tarek) amidst life under occupied Palestine. However, the storyline is far more complex and develops to include murder, deceit and collaboration with Israeli soldiers.
The movie is directed by Hany Abu-Assad who wrote the storyline structure one night in four hours, when he suspected someone on the set of his second feature film was a spy. As such, loyalty and deceit are strong underlying themes in Omar.
It is worth noting that this was a 95% Palestinian funded movie, with all actors (many of whom were first time actors) and movie crew being Palestinian. A truly Palestinian movie in every respect. In addition, Omar won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was a finalist for Foreign Language film at the 2014 Oscar’s. Only after watching the movie, did I find out it was also shown at Durban’s International Film Festival (DIFF) this year.
This is a powerful movie, that portrays emotions and love in a tough, raw way, as is the reality for Palestinians.
The movie ends dramatically and open-ended, enabling the viewer the chance to deduce for themselves what most likely happened. You find yourself thinking about the movie long after its ended, trying to make sense of it, while questioning our concept of love.
Omar will be released in Durban on the 5th December 2014 at Ster Kinekor Gateway.
Well done Durban Minarah Women Association, Ailsor Windsor and various Palestinian solidarity organisations for hosting this event.