Hany Abu-Assad’s new chapter is a love story

The Palestinian film director and two-time Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad steps away from politics for his next film: a love story set in America.
Hany Abu-Assad plans to hire a Hollywood actor for the part and is excited by the prospect of working with a big name.
Hany Abu-Assad plans to hire a Hollywood actor for the part and is excited by the prospect of working with a big name.

The Palestinian Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad has exclusively revealed to The National that he has already begun working on his next project, a love story set in America called Mountains Between Us.

Speaking at the Middle East Now festival in Florence, which is featuring the first-ever retrospective of his work, the Omar director said: “Before I came to Florence I had one month where I wrote the first pages of my new movie.”

When pressed, he revealed that he is actually working on two projects. Neither is the English remake of the Korean hit Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, which he was attached to last year but now appears to have been shelved.

“There are two projects, one that I can do in America and one in Palestine,” said Abu-Assad. “I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, because these days you need to have several projects on the go to eventually make one.”

The project that is closest to his heart is the one set in America. “There is one project that I’m really passionate about. I don’t want to talk too much about it because it’s a fresh situation, I don’t yet have a main actor.”

Abu-Assad plans to hire a Hollywood actor for the part and is excited by the prospect of working with a big name.

“It’s a lovely extreme and for me, working with a huge star is a source of inspiration because it dramatically changes the way of working,” he said. “It creates a different field that can help your imagination to make something very original.”

About the plot he would only reveal that it was a modern love story set in Colorado. And although he originally would not reveal the American title, after a little cajoling he said “It is Mountains Between Us”.

He explained the Palestinian project is a film called Yakoub about consumer society.

“It’s not a political film, it’s far from politics, but really socially evolved because I think all societies have become very consumerist and it’s now a bigger problem than any other problem; it’s destroying the world,” he said. “Without being didactic, it’s a drama, it’s a comedy. It’s a black comedy about consumption society.”

Unlike Paradise Now and his recent film Omar, the film will not deal directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict or the fight for Palestinians for statehood.

“No, this time I’m avoiding the conflict. Yakoub is just about characters who become rich nobodies. They are the new rich and we witness how they deal with life.”

In addition to the Italian premiere of his new film Omar, as part of the festival’s retrospective it is screening Paradise Now, which also received an Oscar nomination in 2006; Rana’s Wedding (2002); The Fourteenth Chick (1998), as well as the documentaries Nazareth 2000 (2000) and Ford Transit (2002).

artslife@thenational.ae

Omar will soon be available to purchase on iTunes. To order pre-order click here

Published: April 12, 2014 04:00 AM

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