The global victory tour of the film Paradise Now by Dutch-Palestinian film maker Hany Abu-Assad is anything but common. The film portrays the last twenty-four hours in the lives of two young Palestinians being 'allowed' to perform a suicide bombing and their struggle around its justification.
This controversial theme has generated numerous discussions and reactions. ‘Most people are positive,’ says producer Bero Beyer. ‘Naturally, we primarily receive reactions from people who are intrigued after seeing the film. But negative responses are also heard, especially in Germany and Austria. These come from people who think that the film could be anti-Israel and therefore do not go to see it. We saw demonstrations in front of theatres with a sign saying: Do you want to watch Jews get killed for € 7? A pity, especially because the film is integer, but also surprising, after all the Germans have done to publicly relieve their feeling of guilt about the holocaust.’
Both Israelis and Palestinians are positive about Paradise Now, in part because of the film’s humanitarian nature. Beyer: ‘Both groups say the film shows what they often think. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the people, not in politics. Palestinians are also proud of the fact that a film was made in Nablus, although some were leery of us making a film about their heroes. We found that Israelis were glad to be able to take a look at life beyond the checkpoints, which they often know nothing about.’
Paradise Now has since been sold to seventy-five countries. And it is being showered with awards, including the prestigious Golden Globe. Beyer: ‘Fantastic, totally unexpected – A reward for the makers who worked on the West Bank at their own peril. After all, it is a war zone.’