Hany Abu-Assad, ‘Paradise Now’

What would you do if Hollywood gave you $75 million to make your dream project?

“My dream project would be a film about the life of Yasser Arafat — particularly focusing on his last days. To me, Arafat’s story is a kind of kingly drama.

Whether you liked him or not, he was undoubtedly a phenomenon that was hard to ignore. It would be important to capture that on film. He was a freedom fighter and achieved a lot for Palestinians, but conversely, in his last days, he became a complete nightmare for the Palestinian people. His last days were very dramatic, filled with paranoia. I became very interested in the idea of filming Arafat’s life a year ago, pretty soon after he died.

As for the team who would make this with me, I would certainly like to reunite with my cinematographer on ‘Paradise Now,’ Antoine Heberle. Finding the actor to play Arafat would very tricky. They would have to be Arabic, but like Anthony Hopkins. Even though he’s not Arabic, Hopkins would do a great job. For the music, I would choose a relatively unknown Dutch composer called Jina Sumedi. (She did the music for “Paradise Now.”)

A project like this would need a large budget, because you have to go back in time and re-create very, very specific places and situations. That would cost a great deal. Also, his life is full of action, such as the plane crash where he alone survived. The money would allow you to re-create a vivid life with a high degree of quality. Arafat was a major personality who ended up surrounded by destruction. It’s a film that could explore how someone faces their inadequacies and goes from something good to something very bad.”

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