A Critical Review of “Omar”
By: Louay Oudeh
Translated by: Farah Rowaysati
We stand against any film made in collaboration with the oppressor, even if it wins the Oscar.
It is joyful to witness Palestinian success in various fields, especially cinema, which is one of the main components of any culture. In fact, cinema reflects the social, cultural and political reality of a certain place in question.
“Omar”, and previously "Paradise Now”, has succeeded in reaching the red carpet of many international film festivals because it reflects a certain reality. It holds the viewpoint of its director and producer. Without any doubt, the Oscars would not accept the nomination or winning of any film that presents a political idea inconsistent with its own, particularly one that discusses “Israel”, however glorious it might be from an artistic view and no matter how famous its actors are.
I believe that our fascination with “Omar” and its Oscar nomination has been somehow superficial. Many of us have failed at realizing the main idea behind this movie, and that of “Paradise Now”, which was directed by the same director.
Director Hani Abu Asaad portrays the Palestinian resistance as individual social cases caused by an [Israeli] checkpoint, the [apartheid] wall or personal revenge to mistreatment by an [Israeli] soldier. In other words, resistance was portrayed as an action executed in order to fulfill a personal dream or as an escape from the inability to fulfill that dream.
I am well-aware that cinema depicts reality through personal stories, not necessarily addressing political issues as a whole. I am also aware that an artwork does not necessarily portray one view that I or you may hold. However, it is not right to render the [Palestinian] resistance to an act driven by personal motives or to make it seem like the personal issue is in itself the motive, not just one side of it.
It is true that many cases might be driven by personal motives; however, “Omar” does not have any reference whatsoever to the common political cause behind the resistance. On the contrary, it portrays the resistance as an act driven by personal motives caused by Israeli Army practices and the complicated reality caused by the [apartheid] wall, a checkpoint, and a not-so-witty intellegince officer. With the desmise of these causes,there wouldn’t be any incentive to resist.
This idea is in fact in tune with that of the illusional “Israeli left”, and attimes that of the [Israeli] intelligence. This view calls for making life easier for Palestinians and enabling them to have better lives. And so, with the dismissal of the causes and drives behind the resistance, Israel can enjoy better security.
Worse still, Abu Asaad claims that “Omar” is a true story! A viewer need not be familiar with [Palestinian] reality in order to wonder at the lack of it in the movie. Any viewer can easily see how silly this adventure is: a young [Palestinian] man released from [Israeli] prisons on condition of locating his friend, who is wanted by the IOF, when in fact this friend is always seen hanging around with a [Palestinian] collaborator with the IOF!
All this confirms that “Omar” nomination to the Oscars is due to the consistency of its main point with that of the Oscars’ [political standards]. For, the only murderers in the film are Palestinians themselves. Israelis are portrayed as performing practices that violate human rights, but never murder.
What’s more important is the film’s consistency with the official Israeli authorities’ standards. Even worse, the film was made in cooperation with the Israeli authories that granted the director permission to shoot in places where filming is known to be banned. This, in fact, triggered my curiousity to check who assissted in the production of this film. For we are all aware that the Zionist entity would never cooperate with any film that would harm the reputation of “Israel” or its security.
The film ends by extending thanks to all those who contributed to its making, including Israeli prison authorities! I do not know exactly the extent or nature of this contribution; it may include the setting, [prison] costumes, filming…but what’s important to know is that theyhavecontributed to the movie.
The director, who defines himself as a Palestinain, extends thanks to our oppressor. His film was endorsed locally and internationally at a time when the world boycotts any institution that cooperates with the Israeli prison authorities even at the expense of financial profits…
I think that we should not allow ourselves to be blinded by excitement and endorse a film that thanks our oppressor. We should be aware that Israeli prison authorities would never accept any cooperation without knowledge as well as approval of the film content.
F.y.i, in reports and shows about Israeli prisons that broadcast on the national Israeli television, an israeli prison authorities representative is always present and has the persmission to omit any part of the report.
We say no to any film that does not have utmost respect for the sacrifices and sufferings of our people!