Premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize, Omar did not get a general release in the UK until a year later in May 2014, but it was well worth waiting for. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad, an Israeli born Palestinian who immigrated to the Netherlands in the 1980’s, whose previous movie Paradise Now (2006), a drama about suicide bombers, won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and received an Oscar nomination in the same category. This latest outing is a compelling drama set in the Occupied West Bank. The movie successfully underlines the present unfair situation in the Middle East where the Israelis punish the Palestinians for wanting to live free from military dictatorship in what are rightfully their own lands.
Set in East Palestine on the front line of a conflict that may never be resolved, it was filmed mainly on location in Nazareth, Nablus and the Far’a Palestinian Refugee Camp which itself is located in the foothills of the Jordan Valley in the Northern West Bank that until 1998 was under the occupation of the Jordanians and the Israelis, then came under the control of the Palestinian National Authority.
The main protagonist in this tense gripping thriller is Omar (Adam Bakri) a Palestinian baker who we witness regularly climbing over the giant separation wall to visit the love of his life Nadja (Leem Lubany) who he hopes to marry when she leaves school. But at night he’s a different man ready to risk his life to strike at the invaders. Along with his two childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani), who is Nadja’s older brother and Amjad (Samer Bishatey), who also has feelings for the attractive young schoolgirl, they hatch a plan to eliminate an Israeli soldier via a high powered rifle. But following his arrest for the killing and consequent torture and beatings Omar is forced into becoming an informant as his only sure way out of prison. But will he inform on his friends and betray his cause, who can he trust when he realises he is not the only informant?
From whatever way you approach this film it presents you with a moral dilemma but it still a film to appreciate with its strong sense of pace and its fine performances from its Palestinian cast. There is I must say a completely unpredictable ending, well it’s not an American film - so enjoy.