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Palestinian Film “Omar” Succeeds Beyond The Red Carpet

Palestinian thriller “Omar” was passed over for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars last night, but its presence at the awards and the intense positive buzz it’s generated have won greater recognition for Palestine. Its director, Hany Abu-Assad, affirms the importance of this achievement, saying “the more the Palestinians have recognition, the more there will be peace in the Middle East. The Academy Awards committee had previously refused to list Palestine as the country of origin for any film, including Abu-Assad’s 2006 film, “Paradise Now”, the first Palestinian feature film to be nominated. Eight years later, the committee reversed this decision, and last week “Omar” began its US run.

Abu-Assad created this triumph out of failure and fear. Disappointed at the outcome of his 2012 film “Courier”, he wrote the initial outline for “Omar” in a single night. It centers on the fear of betrayal, based on Abu-Assad’s own paranoia that there had been a spy on the crew of “Paradise Now”.

This suspicion of potential collaborators is a sensitive subject for Palestinians, and through this focus, “Omar” shows how the occupation shapes and strains the most intimate relationships. Abu-Assad says this emphasis on internal conflict gives the film its universal appeal, transcending politics. “This occupation will end and die soon, hopefully,” he told NPR. “And I don’t want my movie to die with it.” For more info – “Omar” trailer

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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