Academy drops 'territories' in Palestine reference
FILE - This file photo released by Adopt Films shows
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- In the Oscar nominations on Thursday, foreign language nominee "Omar" was described as being from "Palestine," a reference the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has carefully avoided in the past.
"Omar," a drama set amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was directed by Hany Abu-Assad, whose thriller "Paradise Now" was also nominated in the foreign language category in 2005. But after a tussle with the Israeli consulate, the academy chose to refer to the film as a product of the "Palestinian Territories" or "Palestinian Authority," rather than simply "Palestine."
After hearing the news of his latest nomination, Abu-Assad said Thursday that having the academy refer to his entry as being from Palestine was a step in the right direction.
"The world starts to recognize that without giving the Palestinians a just solution, there will always be problems, there will always be something wrong," he said in a phone interview.
"I'm happy to get recognition from people in this business and to represent Palestine," he added. "It's not a country yet, it's not a state, it's a nation fighting for equality and freedom and justice and to represent that is an honor."
Assad said he's also received positive reviews for "Omar" in Israel, whose own Oscar entry, "Bethlehem," focusing on the relationship between an Israeli agent and his Palestinian informant, did not receive a nomination on Thursday.
Regarding its apparent change in policy about describing Palestine, academy spokeswoman Teni Melidonian said, "We follow United Nations protocol. This is not a political situation at all. We are just in the business of honoring filmmaking."
Israel's culture and foreign ministries and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles declined to comment.
Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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