Films to Watch: Omar

By Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)

Omar is an ordinary Palestinian love story told against the setting of a devastating war. How ordinary can that really be?

Director: Hany Abu-Assad

Cast: Adam BakriLeem LubanyIyad Hoorani

Watch the official trailer on Youtube.

I am sitting down to write this review and I feel like an imposter. Sure we’ve all been tweeting about Palestine and posting up really sad pictures with even sadder captions on Instagram. We all empathise with the civilians who continue to suffer and die in Palestine. The children playing on the beach, the mother sleeping in her bed and the soldier fighting for his nation, they’re all dying. But many of us do not have a full grasp of why this is happening, So I asked my folks why there was so much tension over this war and these nations between these religious groups, and my dad simply said, “it’s an old war over land and national sovereignty”, my mother adds, “it gets like this, it’s been a war waging since we were your age”, and I kept thinking, then why is there no intervention? What is it like for the people of Palestine who are being claimed daily as collateral damage? And so I watched a Palestinian film titled Omar that was released in 2013. And I’d like to say out right that it’s the best foreign film I’ve seen in the past year, a sentiment which was echoed through its nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 86th Academy Awards .

Omar is an ordinary Palestinian love story told against the setting of a devastating war. How ordinary can that really be? The films lead, Omar, risks military gunshot in occupied Palestine as he scales walls just so that he can visit the love of his life, Nadia. A schoolgirl, Nadia is madly and perhaps naively in love with her baker turned freedom fighter boyfriend and, the two have plans to marry soon. Omar works diligently in the bakery to save up for a house for himself and his bride-to-be. These plans, however, are smashed to pieces after Omar is arrested and then tricked into working as a double-agent by the Israeli defense after an Israeli soldier is killed dead by Palestinian freedom fighters. What follows is a well-paced narrative of the repercussions of a lie, the clashes of culture and the fight for sovereignty.

I call it the best foreign film I’ve seen in the past year because it truly connected with something that was real. Although at times gruesome, the film’s storytelling is believable and unadulterated; as opposed to some of the romanticised greats like the popular French film, Blue Is The Warmest Colour and the slow, purposeful Dutch dramas like The Hunt. It gave me some insight, which I believe to be realistic, into the daily life of another girl my age in a world that is completely different to mine. And that gave me a sober appreciation for the freedom and peace that I so freely I have.

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