THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US
After having studied and worked as an airplane engineer in the Netherlands,
HANY ABU-ASSAD began producing films. He worked on documentaries Dar O Dar for
Channel 4 and Long Days in Gaza for the BBC, to name a few.
In 1992, Abu-Assad wrote and directed his first short, Paper House. The film
recounts the adventures of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who tries to build his
own house after his family's home has been destroyed by the occupation forces.
Paper House was broadcasted by NOS Dutch television and won several
international awards at film festivals.
The following year, Abu-Assad produced the feature film Curfew, directed by
Rashid Masharawi. An international co-production between Argus Film Productions,
WDR, ARTE and AVRO, Curfew was highly praised, winning awards including the Gold
Pyramid in Cairo, and the UNESCO Prize in Cannes, among others.
After his second short The 13th, which he wrote, produced and directed,
Abu-Assad began working on his first full-length feature project as a director.
He collaborated with writer Arnon Grunberg to develop a script that challenged
and explored cinematic narrative and style in a comedy about a couple in
Amsterdam. The film, The Fourteenth Chick, was the opening film of the Dutch
Film Festival in Utrecht 1998 and was distributed by United International
Recent works include the bittersweet documentary Nazareth 2000, which Abu-Assad
made for Dutch VPRO television. The turmoil in a divided and secretly occupied
city and its quarrelling Palestinian inhabitants, Christian and Muslim, is
viewed through the eyes of two gas station attendants. Combining a compassionate
and satirical approach to a serious subject matter, Abu-Assad succeeded in
creating a multifaceted and surprisingly humorous documentary.
Abu-Assad and Bero Beyer founded Augustus Film in 2000. Abu-Assad directed
Rana's Wedding (2002), a production realized with the support of the Palestinian
Film Foundation of the Ministry of Culture of the Palestinian National
Authority. It describes a day in the life of a young woman in Jerusalem, during
which she tries to get married before four o' clock that day. The film was
selected for Critics Week 2002 in Cannes and went on to win prizes at
Montpellier, Marrakech, Bastia and Cologne.
Abu-Assad's next documentary, Ford Transit (2002) played at the Sundance Film
Festival. A portrait of a driver of a Ford Transit taxi, the film humorously
observes the resilient inhabitants of Palestinian territories. The film won the
FIPRESCI award during the Thessaloniki Film Festival, the In the Spirit of
Freedom Award in Jerusalem and together with Rana's Wedding, the Nestor
Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking at the Human Rights Film Festival in
Abu-Assad and Beyer wrote Paradise Now in 1999 and shot the film in Nablus in
2004. It received its World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2005, where it
was won the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film, the Berliner Morgenpost
Readers' Prize and the Amnesty International Award for Best Film. In 2006, it
won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, an Independent
Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film, and was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award
for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2011, Abu-Assad finished working on The
Courier, starring Jeffery Dean Morgan, Til Schweiger and Mickey Rourke.
Abu-Assad finished Omar in 2013, a tragic love story set in occupied Palestine.
Omar won the jury price in the competition of Certain Regard at Cannes Film
Festival of 2013, the Best Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (ASPA)
2013, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Omar won several other awards including Best Feature Film and Best Director at
the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and Best Director at the War on
Screen Festival International De Cinema.
In 2015 Abu-Assad completed his sixth feature film, The Idol, a drama inspired
by the incredible journey of the artist Mohammad Assaf, a singer from Gaza who
won the Arab Idol show in 2013.
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