Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.
The director, Hany Abu-Assad, previously helmed Paradise Now. That film, about two would-be suicide bombers, garnered a Best Foreign Language Film nomination in 2005 but did not win.
Omar revolves around a Palestinian who routinely climbs over the security fence installed by Israel in order to see his girlfriend. But the lovelorn Omar also plots with two other Palestinians to heroically murder an Israeli soldier. When he is arrested and tortured, he confesses and becomes an informant for Israeli forces. The question is whether he is double-crossing the Israelis or really spying for them.
Even a publication as far-left as the Village Voice disliked the film for its heavy-handed evisceration of Israelis and adulation bestowed on Palestinians. The Voice wrote:
A screed is a screed no matter its superficial genre trappings, as evidenced by Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar, whose thriller machinations are merely a vehicle to deliver narrow-minded political preaching … While Omar and his Palestinian loved ones are presented as uniformly funny, romantic and likable, Israelis are depicted as unjustifiably cruel and devious, be they the soldiers who harass Omar for no reason, the officers who torture him after he’s rightly arrested for the soldier’s death, or agent Rami … who tricks Omar into confessing and then blackmails him into becoming an informant … With its deck so stacked that it plays out like a crude anti-Israeli sermon, the film – which ultimately determines that deception, betrayal and cold-blooded murder are acceptable if committed against Israelis (or by women), but not if done by Israelis – proves one-dimensional as both a political argument and a drama.
A one-sided film vilifying Israelis and praising Palestinians possibly honored with an Oscar?
What a surprise.