Paradise Now

Paradise Now

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Paradise Now is a 2005
2005 in film
- Highest-grossing films :Please note that following the tradition of the English-language film industry, these are the top-grossing films that were first released in the United States in 2005...

 film directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad is a Dutch-Palestinian film director. His film Paradise Now, about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.-Early life:...

 about two Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. It won a Golden Globe for best foreign language film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.

"The film is an artistic point of view of that political issue," Abu-Assad said. "The politicians want to see it as black and white, good and evil, and art wants to see it as a human thing."

Plot


Paradise Now follows Palestinian childhood friends Said and Khaled who live in Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 and have been recruited for suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

s in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. It focuses on what would be their last days together.

Their handlers from an unidentified "resistance group" tell them the attack will take place the next day. The pair record videos glorifying Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 and their cause, and bid their unknowing families and loved ones goodbye, while trying to behave normally to avoid arousing suspicion. The next day, they shave off their hair and beards and don suits in order to look like Israelis. Their cover story is that they are going to a wedding.

An explosive belt
Explosive belt
An explosive belt is an improvised explosive device, a belt or a vest packed with explosives and armed with a detonator, worn by suicide bombers...

 is attached to each man; the handlers are the only ones with the keys needed to remove the belts without detonating them. The men are instructed to detonate the bombs at the same place, a military check point in Israel, with a time interval of 15 minutes so that the second bomb will kill police arriving after the first blast.

They cross the Israeli border, but have to flee from guards. Khaled returns to their handlers, who have fled by the time Said arrives. The handlers remove Khaled's explosive belt and issue a search for Said. Khaled believes he is the best person to find Said since he knows him well, and he is given until the end of that day to find him.

After Said escapes from the guards, he re-enters Israeli territory alone. At one point, he considers detonating the bomb on a commercial bus, but he decides not to when he sees a child on board. Eventually, Said reveals his reason for taking part in the suicide bombing. While in a car with Suha, a woman he has fallen in love with — who plays the role of the doubter or the men's conscience — he explains that his father was an ameel (a "collaborator," or Palestinian working for the Israelis), who was executed for his actions. He blames the Israelis for taking advantage of his father's weakness.

Khaled eventually finds Said, who is still wearing the belt and about to detonate it while lying on his father's grave. They return to the handlers, and Said convinces them that the attack need not be canceled, because he is ready for it. They both travel to Tel Aviv. Influenced by Suha, who discovered their plan, Khaled cancels his suicide attack. Khaled tries to convince Said to back off as well. However Said manages to shake Khaled by pretending to agree.

The film ends with a long shot of Said sitting on a bus carrying Israeli civilians and soldiers, slowly zooming in on his eyes, and then suddenly cuts to white. It is left open to the viewers' interpretation to determine whether or not Said detonated the bomb.

Production


Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad is a Dutch-Palestinian film director. His film Paradise Now, about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.-Early life:...

 and co-writer Bero Beyer
Bero Beyer
Bero Beyer is a Dutch Film Producer. He was the co-writer and co-producer of Paradise Now.-External links:...

 started working on the script in 1999, but it took them five years to get the story before cameras. The original script was about one man searching for his friend, who is a suicide bomber, but it evolved into a story of two friends, Said and Khaled.

The filmmakers faced great difficulties making the film on location. A land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

 exploded 300 meters away from the set. While filming in Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

, Israeli helicopter gunships launched a missile attack on a car near the film's set one day, prompting six crew members to abandon the production indefinitely. Paradise Nows location manager
Location manager
The Location Manager is responsible for the finding and securing locations to be used and coordinating the logistics involved for the production to successfully complete its necessary work...

 was kidnapped by a Palestinian faction during the shoot and was not released until Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

's office intervened. In an interview with the Telegraph, Hany Abu-Assad said, "If I could go back in time, I wouldn't do it again. It's not worth endangering your life for a movie." The Israel Film Fund is underwriting the film’s distribution in Israel.

Statements by the filmmakers


In Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad
Hany Abu-Assad is a Dutch-Palestinian film director. His film Paradise Now, about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.-Early life:...

's Golden Globe acceptance speech he made a plea for a Palestinian state, saying he hoped the Golden Globe was “a recognition that the Palestinians deserve their liberty and equality unconditionally."

In an interview with Jewish American Tikkun
Tikkun (magazine)
Tikkun is a quarterly English-language magazine, published in the United States, that analyzes American and Israeli culture, politics, religion and history from a leftist-progressive viewpoint, and provides commentary about Israeli politics and Jewish life in North America...

 magazine, Hany Abu-Assad was asked "When you look ahead now, what gives you hope?", "The conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

 of the Jewish people" he answered. "The Jews have been the conscience of humanity, always, wherever they go. Not all Jews, but part of them. Ethics. Morality. They invented it! I think Hitler wanted to kill the conscience of the Jews, the conscience of humanity. But this conscience is still alive...Maybe a bit weak...But still alive. Thank God." He has also stated in an interview to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

-based newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth
Yedioth Ahronoth
Yedioth Ahronoth is a daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, Israel. Since the 1970s, it has been the most widely circulated paper in Israel. In a TGI survey comparing the last half of 2009 with the same period in 2008, Yedioth Ahronoth retained the title of most widely read newspaper in Israel...

 that had he been raised in the Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 instead of in his Arab-Israeli home city of Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, he would have become a suicide bomber himself.

Israeli-Jewish producer Amir Harel told reporters that "First and foremost the movie is a good work of art", adding that "If the movie raises awareness or presents a different side of reality, this is an important thing."

Oscars


Paradise Now was the first Palestinian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the Academy Awards of Merit, popularly known as the Oscars, handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

. An earlier Palestinian film, Divine Intervention
Divine Intervention (film)
Elia Suleiman has used entirely non-original music of various genres and artists in the film. These include artists such as the Belgian singer Natacha Atlas, Indian composer A.R...

 (2002), had controversially failed to gain admission to the competition, allegedly because films nominated for this award must be put forward by the government of their country, and Palestine's status as a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 is disputed. However, since entities such as Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 have been submitting entries for years although they are not sovereign states with full United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 representation, accusations of a double standard
Double standard
A double standard is the unjust application of different sets of principles for similar situations. The concept implies that a single set of principles encompassing all situations is the desirable ideal. The term has been used in print since at least 1895...

 were made.

Paradise Now was submitted to the Academy and to the Golden Globes as a film from 'Palestine'. It was referred to as such at the Golden Globes. However, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i officials, including Consul General Ehud Danoch and Consul for Media and Public Affairs Gilad Millo, tried to extract a guarantee from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures...

 that Paradise Now would not be presented in the ceremony as representing the state of Palestine, despite the fact it was introduced as such in the Academy Awards' official website. The Academy Awards began to refer to the film's country instead as "the Palestinian Authority". This decision angered director-writer Hany Abu-Assad, who said it represented a slap in the face for the Palestinian people and their national identity. The Academy subsequently referred to it as a submission from the "Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

". In a further complication, Israeli writer Irit Linor
Irit Linur
-Biography:Irit Linur was married to Alon Ben David, Senior Defense Correspondent for Israel Channel 10 and Middle East Correspondent for Jane's Defense Weekly.-Literary career:Linur started her writing career as a satirical columnist in local newspapers...

 points out that "according to internationally accepted conventions, the nationality of a film is usually determined by the country that invested in it - and that while the film was categorized by the Academy as representing Palestine, it was produced with European funds, by an Israeli-Arab director."

On March 1, 2006, a group representing Israeli victims of suicide bombings asked the Oscar organizers to disqualify the film. These protesters claimed that showing the film was immoral and encouraged killing civilians in terror acts.

Critical response


Paradise Now has an 89% rating on the review compendium website Rotten Tomatoes.

Stephen Holden, in his October 28, 2005 article in the New York Times, applauded the suspense and plot twists in the movie, and the risks involved humanizing suicide bombers, saying "it is easier to see a suicide bomber as a 21st-century Manchurian Candidate - a soulless, robotic shell of a person programmed to wreak destruction - than it is to picture a flesh-and-blood human being doing the damage."

In February 2006, Irit Linur
Irit Linur
-Biography:Irit Linur was married to Alon Ben David, Senior Defense Correspondent for Israel Channel 10 and Middle East Correspondent for Jane's Defense Weekly.-Literary career:Linur started her writing career as a satirical columnist in local newspapers...

 wrote that the film's use of sophisticated techniques and symbolism was used to present caricatures, recycle anti-Semitic myths and introduce Christological
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

 associations in the film.

Academy Award

  • On January 31, 2006, the film was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film
    Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
    The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the Academy Awards of Merit, popularly known as the Oscars, handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

     category.

Golden Globe

  • Paradise Now won "Best Foreign Language Film
    Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film
    The Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the awards presented at the Golden Globes, an American film awards ceremony.Until 1986, it was known as the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film, meaning that any non-American film could be honoured...

    " for the 63rd Golden Globe Awards
    63rd Golden Globe Awards
    ----Picture - Drama: Brokeback Mountain ----Picture - Musical or Comedy: Walk the Line ----TV Series - Drama: Lost ----TV Series - Musical or Comedy: Desperate Housewives ----Miniseries or TV Movie: Empire Falls ...

    , the first time a Palestinian film was nominated for such an award.

Other awards won

  • 2005 Berlin International Film Festival
    Berlin International Film Festival
    The Berlin International Film Festival , also called the Berlinale, is one of the world's leading film festivals and most reputable media events. It is held in Berlin, Germany. Founded in West Berlin in 1951, the festival has been celebrated annually in February since 1978...

    :
    • Amnesty International Film Prize
    • AGICOA 2005 Blue Angel Award
    • Reader Jury of the "Berliner Morgenpost"
  • 2005 European Film Awards:
    • Best Screenplay
  • 2005 Independent Spirit Awards
    Independent Spirit Awards
    The Independent Spirit Awards , founded in 1984, are awards dedicated to independent filmmakers. Winners were typically presented with acrylic glass pyramids containing suspended shoestrings representing the paltry budgets of independent films. In 1986, the event was renamed the Independent Spirit...

    :
    • Best Foreign Film
  • 2005 National Board of Review Awards
    National Board of Review Awards 2005
    The 77th National Board of Review Awards, honoring the best in film for 2005, were given on 12 December 2005.-Top 10 films:#Good Night, and Good Luck.#Brokeback Mountain#Capote#Crash...

     (USA) :
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • 2005 Netherlands Film Festival
    Netherlands Film Festival
    The Netherlands Film Festival is an annual film festival, held in September and October of each year in the city of Utrecht.During the ten-day festival, all Dutch film productions of the previous year are exhibited. Besides feature films, the program also consists of short subjects, documentary...

    :
    • Best Feature Film (Beste Lange Speelfilm)
    • Best Editing (Beste Montage)
  • 2005 Durban International Film Festival
    Durban International Film Festival
    The Durban International Film Festival is an annual film festival that takes place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. It is one of the oldest and largest film festival in Southern African and presents over 200 screenings celebrating the best in South African, African and...

     (South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    )
    • Best Director
  • 2005 Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards
    • Best Foreign Language Film
  • 2005 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards
    Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards 2005
    The 6th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards, honoring the best in filmmaking in 2005, were given on 7 February 2006.-International:*Best Actor:**Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote*Best Actress:**Felicity Huffman - Transamerica*Best Director:...

    • Best Foreign Film

External links