Today, the Palestinian/Israeli actors Adam Bakri and Leem Lubany will make a big public appearance in Miami. They are being hosted by the Coral Gables Art Cinema for the local premier of Omar, the second foreign-language film nominated for an Oscar by Hany Abu-Assad. It’s a powerful film that paints a human picture of the struggles of young Palestinians fighting occupation in the West Bank but also dealing with youthful emotions and love.
There are some intense chase scenes in the film that feature Bakri climbing walls and cutting through an array of obstacles. But also an impressive set-piece in the wall that divides Omar, the character he plays, and his love interest Nadia, played by Lubany. We spoke via phone yesterday. “I did the majority of my stunts,” Bakri said. “The only thing I didn’t do was scaling the wall. We had a circus guy for that. But then there’s another crazy jump that Omar does in the movie that the producers didn’t let me do because if I hurt myself that would have stopped the shooting, so that jump was done by another stunt double.”
You’ll know what he’s talking about when you see the movie. Though he may look like a Parkour expert in some of the scenes, he downplays his talents. “I had a very intense working out schedule before, for like a month and a half, running, working out,” he explained. “I had a very good personal trainer, but as far as Parkour, I didn’t do that. We left that for the circus guy, to climb the wall. It’s really a huge wall. It’s almost impossible for anyone not involved in the circus or the stunt life to do it.”
Lubany said she comes from a long line of Palestinians. “I’m Palestinian-Israeli,” she said. “I was born in Israel but my great, great, great grandfather he was there much longer, and then the Israelis came. I mean, I am Palestinian, but I was born in Israel.”
She said she will be ready for a lively discussion after the screening of Omar and hopes viewers arrive with an open mind to the Palestinian perspective. She recalls a screening in Tel Aviv where she dealt with both open-minded viewers and some who were … not so much. “When the movie was over, they asked some questions,” she said, “and I saw that some people really were open-minded and really tried to see the movie in other perspective than themselves, and others didn’t like it at all because they didn’t want to see the ugly truth, so I think that we really want them to come in, sit down and be objective and just look at some people’s life in [the city of] Nablus without even thinking whether they’re Palestinian, whatever their religion or where they live in, just look at them what they’re going through, so yeah.”
To read more of my interview with these two actors, including their reaction to the Oscar nomination, jump through the logo of the art and culture blog “Cultist” from the “Miami New Times”:
Omar premieres Friday, Feb. 21, at the Coral Gables Art Cinema. A Q&A with the actors will follow the film at 7 p.m., and there will be an open bar and Middle Eastern food served at a reception after the screening.(Copyright 2014 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
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