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Paradise Now is a chapter in the “quest for the magic moment” by Hany Abu Assad

Mon Dec 12,2005

Dubai, December 12, 2005: The “search for the magic moment” drives the creative expression of Hany Abu Assad, the Palestinian director and scriptwriter of ‘Paradise Now’. The acclaimed and controversial movie left a strong impression amongst the audience invited for the inaugural gala screening at the 2nd Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) last evening. “For me, the moment when fiction and reality unite with each other is the magic moment. When the distinction between genres blur, when you can touch comedy and tragedy at the same time, when fantasy comes alive,” explained Abu Assad. “I am constantly searching for that moment in all my creative work that happens to use the medium of film. On their own, both fiction and non-fiction are just commentary. They do not have the power to move unless they join with each other.” ‘Paradise Now’ is making waves at DIFF screenings and is also showing in theatres in the US and around the world. It won the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film, the Amnesty International Film Prize and the Berliner Morgenpost Readers Prize at the Berlin Film Festival 2005. It won the Best Screenwriter award at the European Film Awards earlier and is nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Hany said that he was fortunate to find courageous people to finance the movie, as his concept initially received no response from investors. Later while filming, there was constant danger of the unit coming to harm due to the volatile nature of Nablus. Though the Israelis did not impose any censorship on the film, the conditions in Nablus felt like being under constant censorship. “Though certain groups within Palestine opposed the making of this movie on grounds that it was against suicide attacks and even kidnapped a unit member, the moderates have supported it. I will always remain a Palestinian film-maker working for the humanitarian cause,” he added. The narrative of Paradise Now focuses on the last days of two friends, Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), who work in a garage in the West Bank town of Nablus. They are ordered to carry out a suicide attack to avenge the killing of Palestinian youth. In his portrayal of the two friends as a product of the culture of occupation, Hany goes beyond stereotypes of irrational fundamentalists. “I have tried to utilise the beautiful side of life that is art, to bring out the sensitivity of my characters, living under difficult situation in Paradise Now,” concluded Hany.

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