Hany Abu-Assad’s “Omar” takes top prize at major festivals

Hany Abu-Assad’s acclaimed new film Omar picked up two new prizes this week.

Omar was awarded best Arab feature film at the Dubai International Film Fest today, and Abu-Assad was named best director in the same competition. Omar was the opening film at the festival, and his previous film Paradise Now was the opening film at the festival in 2005.

Several other Palestinian films were featured at the festival, including Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer, Jinan Coulter’s Searching for Saris, Mais Darawzah’s My Love Awaits Me by the Sea and Rashid Masharawi’s Palestine Stereo.

On Thursday, Omar was named best feature film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane, Australia. Two other Palestine films, Annemarie Jacir’s When I Saw You and Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours were also nominated for best children’s feature film and best documentary feature, respectively.

Omar, Palestine’s official submission to the 2014 Academy Awards for the best foreign language film, “is an intimate, surprisingly humorous and often claustrophobic portrait of friendship, love, betrayal and sacrifice in the face of extreme pressures,” according to Jonathan Cook’s review for The Electronic Intifada.

Upcoming projects

Meanwhile, the Dubai Film Connection has awarded funds to multiple Palestine film projects.

One of the top prizes went to Ghada Terawi’s The Forgotten, which “tells the story of Japanese pro-Palestinian activist Kozo Okamoto,” according to Screen Daily (watch the trailer above).

Screen Daily adds:

The $8,250 Arte International Prize went to Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi’s Gaza DC, revolving around an ill-fated love story between a US activist and a local man in the Gaza Strip.

And one more Palestine film received a prize:

Palestinian Firas Khoury’s The Flag won the $10,000 Front Row/KNCC Award. Produced by Hany Abu-Assad, the film revolves around a group of students who plot to swap the Israeli flag flying over their school for a Palestinian one.

Mohanad Yaqubi was also given a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for his documentary project Off Frame, which is “focused on one of the main film groups of the Palestinian revolution, the Palestine Film Unit, which aimed to produce a new image of the Palestinian struggle,” according to the film’s description on the fund’s website.

In other film news, Annemarie Jacir’s award-winning feature When I Saw You (2012) hasn’t had a theatrical release in the United States but will be screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City next month.

And for Palestine film fans everywhere, Nasri Hajjaj’s feature-length documentary As the Poet Said (2009), a tribute to the late Palestinian icon Mahmoud Darwish, can be watched in its entirely online.

With big thanks to @palestinefilm.




Both "When I Saw You" and "Omar" can be saved for upcoming release on Netflix DVD. This might help get them actually released sooner. I'll try for some of the others also.

Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.