Monday, February 18, 2008

West Bank Story

One film that is VERY much on my "to see" list is West Bank Story. The Academy Award winner for best live-action short of 2006, it's a 21 minute musical comedy based on West Side Story.

Here's a plot summary from one online article:
It’s Shakespeare on the Jordan River when two star-crossed lovers are forced to battle traditional Israeli-Palestinian conflicts with two unusual weapons - music and comedy - in the short film West Bank Story. The plot centers around David, an Israeli soldier, and Fatima, a beautiful Palestinian cashier, who are caught in a running feud between their families’ competing falafel stands in the West Bank. The film’s even-handed humor and insightful gags are specifically designed to break open old prejudices and allow audiences to see the potential for a peaceful outcome in the Middle East, which is often dogged by seemingly endless controversy.

. . .
[Writer/director Ari] Sandel and his creative team believed that the film’s success would hinge on its even-handed portrayal of Jews and Arabs in every aspect of the filmmaking. This balance included the number of jokes made at each groups’ expense, the number of real-life Arabs and Jews in the cast, and the number of shots that featured each of the characters. Even the music features an equalizing blend of Palestinian-style rhythms, Jewish Klezmer sounds, and American Broadway musicals.
To see a trailer for the film, hear some of its music, and buy a copy, visit A portion of the proceeds will go to these two charities:

Hand in Hand schools seek to spark revolutionary change in Israeli education and society by establishing a new educational paradigm: integrated, bilingual schools where Jewish and Arab children and their families learn and grow together. Hand in Hand's mission is to catalyze the creation of a network of integrated schools around the country, providing Jewish and Arab parents the option to send their children to schools where they can learn and interact with all their neighbors.

The Parents' Circle - Bereaved Families Forum is nearly 500 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost loved ones in the conflict. Yet they reject violence, traveling and speaking side by side to call on both peoples to reconcile in the spirit of peace. Always Arab and Jew together, they facilitate classroom Dialogue sessions in high schools, promote the "Hello Peace" telephone chat line for communication between Palestinians and Israelis, hold a summer camp for the children, and tour the Middle East and North America creating hope in the hearts of both peoples.

Go here to watch the first 4 minutes of the film.

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