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Oscar-Nominated ‘Omar’ Opens Friday In San Diego

Palestinian Actor Talks About Playing An Israeli Agent

Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter), an Israeli intelligence operative, makes a deal to ...

Credit: Adopt Films

Above: Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter), an Israeli intelligence operative, makes a deal to free Omar from a long prison sentence in exchange for becoming a double agent in a scene from Hany Abu-Assad’s new Academy Award® nominated thriller, “Omar,” an Adopt Films release.


Waleed Zuaiter, actor, 'Omar'


Palestinian actor Waleed Zuaiter stopped by the KPBS studios to talk about the Oscar-nominated "Omar" that opens Friday at Landmark's La Jolla Village.

"Omar" is a tense thriller revolving around issues of trust and betrayal in the Occupied Territories. Omar (Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girlfriend Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he risks his life in a strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Omar is arrested and agrees to work as an informant for an Israeli agent named Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter).

The film is directed by Hany Abu-Assad who made the Oscar-nominated "Paradise Now" back in 2005. That film was one of the first to present a Palestinian perspective on the Middle East, and to serve up issues as complex and divisive. With "Omar," he continues to tackle similar themes and refuses to paint them in simple black and white terms. Adding to both the complexity and the drive to explore it, Abu-Assad casts Palestinian actor Waleed Zuaiter as an Israeli and as one of those representing the occupiers.

Abu-Assad opens with Omar scaling the separation wall and dodging soldiers as if it were no different than dealing with rush hour traffic each morning. Details such as this help paint a portrait of what life is like in the Occupied Territories. Abu-Assad's films are provocative because he doesn't tell you what to think but rather gives us fully human, multi-dimensional characters that struggle with decisions. As a result there are no easy answers only a series of questions and possibilities.

"Omar" is not rated and is in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. The filmmakers find out on March 2 if the film will win the Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Companion viewing: "Paradise Now," "Waltz with Bashir," "Divine Intervention"

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