Internationally well-known Egyptian actor Omar El Sherif has won the Best Actor Award at the Cesars Pre-eminent Film Awards, in France for his role as a Muslim shopkeeper in the drama film “Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fluers du Koran” (Monsieur Ibrahim). Omar had expressed his deep gratitude at winning such an award stressing that he always loved the French and believes they share the same sentiments towards him by granting such an honor, reported the London based daily, Al Sharq Al Awsat.
The film is directed by director François Dupeyron and concerns the friendship between Momo, a young Jewish boy (Pierre Boulanger), and Ibrahim (Omar), a Muslim shopkeeper who becomes his surrogate father and spiritual guide.
Set in Paris in the 1960's, the movie has a scruffy, New Wave look and a soundtrack full of period-appropriate French and American pop songs. The film is basically a lesson in tolerance, but the atmosphere of unassuming realism and the tenderness of the two central performances make it less cloying then it might be, and Sherif's sly charisma almost rescues his character, who is basically the personification of exotic, enigmatic wisdom, from being a dubious Orientalist cliché.
Previous remarks made by El Sherif during an interview with Times magazine regarding the film has caused for the rise of a storm of anger among Arab Muslims. Omar made his remarks during the middle of a nomination to the Oscars. His film has been suggested to enter the race for best foreign film in addition to nominating him for an award for best actor.
The remarks that caused the storm of anger were Omar's revealing that he has two grandchildren, one Jewish and the other a Muslim. The actor had stressed that he does not interfere in religious matters and is giving his grandchildren the freedom of choosing which religion they want to follow. Omar added that he will not in any way try to influence them to both follow Islam even if his Muslim grandchild wanted to convert.
Many believed that Omar's comments were a way of denying his true Arab and Muslim identity and roots, and aiming winning sentimentality and sympathy from American Jews, who are behind the decision making process in the cinema. –Albawab.com
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