The Omar Interviews — Love in the Time of Conflict
“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
In the first half of my profile of Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad — “Omar in Toronto”: Nazareth, in the Land of Film and Hany — I wanted to showcase the city behind the man. Within its creative chaos and subtle but critical balances lie not only the clues to Abu-Assad’s genius, but many of the answers that could help us navigate today’s hyper-divided world. I also realize that Abu-Assad is a man whose ideas are groundbreaking and powerfully interesting, so here I left the talking to him. I simply guided some thoughts his way and let his personal truth, his voice, uninterrupted shine through.
Omar screened as a Special Presentation at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, starting September 10th.
Abu-Assad on tragic love
The greatest love stories are tragic, because they are reminding us of our own tragic love stories. I do believe, and for sure there are exceptions, that most people in modern time are not living with their great love, but with a stand-in. If you ask anyone “Who was your great love?” — it will be someone else than who they are with. And tragic love stories remind us of our deepest fear, that we lost the great love we once had.
Abu-Assad on love’s pain
Actually, the greatest thing about being so in love and the pain, is that it makes you so sensitive for art, for music, for food, everything then was so good. It’s love and the pain, and sometimes you miss the pain.
Abu-Assad on reaching audiences through entertainment
I believe that first of all cinema is entertainment. But you can be entertained and still it can touch you deeply or make you emotionally involved. What I personally try to do is go deep and entertain myself first, as someone who considers himself part of a sophisticated audience, but meanwhile I also want to reach the bigger mass, the people who don’t necessarily need to see film as a form of art. To bring these two together, it’s very difficult and most of the time, you are going to fail.