Hany Abu-Assad • Director
by Camillo de Marco
01/03/2006 - In the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, there is a film representing Palestine, a "nonexistent nation" that, for the third consecutive year, has the right to compete for the legendary statue despite not having achieved full independence. The film is Paradise Now [trailer], the Dutch/French/German co-production directed by Hany Abu-Assad. The director told Cineuropa: "It is a great honour for me to compete for a cause".
Cineuropa: Your story is certainly a powerful one, because it deals realistically with one of the most pressing problems today, suicide terrorism in the Middle East, the phenomenon of the so-called kamikazes.
Hany Abu-Assad: I want to my film to be judged on solely cinematic grounds. Paradise Now is about friendship, and how the choices we make are influenced by the environment and circumstances around us. I used reality as the backdrop. I wanted to make a thriller, a genre film, but in a realistic context, in a real time and place, simultaneously telling an important story.
But the political message is inevitable.
Personally, I am against violence. However, the film is more complex than my opinion: each character has his own opinion, and enters into conflict with himself and the others.
You nevertheless have an opinion on the responsibility behind the escalation of violence?
My political point of view is clear: there is a nation whose borders are controlled by Israel. They are occupying our land, they are responsible for the people who live within those borders. Until the Palestinians have equal rights these things will continue to happen, there will be 14 year-olds ready to become kamikazes.
Yet the film does not deal with the more negative aspects of Palestinian life, for instance, the mafia-like running of the territory by fundamentalist organisations.
When we become a free and independent nation, then I will speak about the unhealthy part of our society.