After “The Office of Legends”, Ziad Bakri breaks the screen in “The Translator”

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If you are a fan of Legends Office, the espionage series of Eric Rochant, his face necessarily tells you something. Palestinian actor Ziad Bakri, 41, played Nadim El Bachir, a double agent of the Syrian secret service. His performance in nuances had seduced Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf who had engaged him on their short film Our sea, nominated for the César in 2018. Suffice to say that they did not look very far for the interpreter of their first feature, The translator, in theaters this Wednesday.

In this intense political thriller, the duo stars Sami, the translator of the Syrian Olympic team at the Sydney Games in 2000. Settled in Australia where he has rebuilt his life, he decides to return home in the spring of 2011, when his activist brother is arrested during a demonstration. On screen, Ziad Bakri delivers an interpretation that is both dignified and sensitive, his character symbolizing the guilt of the filmmaker couple, themselves in exile for a decade.

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Son of a legend of Arab cinema

“He’s always interesting in front of the camera. For me he’s one of the best actors in the world.”, enthuses Rana Kazakaz who admits that the character of Sami was written for him. “He immediately told us that it was a pleasure and an honor to make a film on the Syrian revolution”, adds Anas Khalaf. “The shoot was tough and grueling, but it really did measure up.”

An actor like his brothers Saleh and Adam, Ziad Bakri is one of the six children of a figure of Arab cinema, actor and director Mohammed Barki, revealed thanks to his role as a refugee in Hanna K. by Costa Gavras, in 1983, and a fervent defender of the Palestinian cause. A graduate of an acting school in Tel Aviv, Ziad had one of his first major film roles in Remaining time by Elia Suleiman, before making an appearance in Miral the Julian Schnabel.

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In 2018, the actor took over from his father taking the lead role of Mafak, a film in which he plays Rina, a Palestinian who returns home to Ramallah after spending 15 years in an Israeli prison. “It’s a role that sums up the Palestinian condition well”, he explains at the time to the site Ahram Online. “You live in a place which is yours but where you are not free, as if you were in prison.”

Thanks to the notoriety acquired thanks to Legends Office, Ziad Bakri’s career will soon take on an international dimension. He starred in the Italian film Prophets, alongside Jamsine Trinca. And he will soon be in the credits of The Weekend Away, a Netflix thriller inspired by Sarah Alderson’s bestseller in which he will star Leigton Meester, one of the stars of the series Gossip Girl.

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