Saturday, November 21, 2015

'West Bank Story': A message of hope through music, laughter and film

A friend alerted me yesterday to this 2005 film written by Ari Sandel and Kim Ray. It's a 20-minute West Side Story spoof, set in two rival fast-food restaurants, one Israeli, one Palestinian: David and Fatima fall in love and determine to find a way to resolve their families' differences.

At first, given the world situation, I hesitated to post it here. Then I realised that that very hesitation was the best reason to do so. More than ever we need messages of hope, however unlikely hope and peace may seem at the moment, and the powers of music, laughter and love are a good combination to create one. All credits go to

Ari Sandel was born in the US to an Israeli father and American mother. He studied Islam, Judaism and the History of the Middle East at college and has travelled extensively throughout the region. In the interview on the film's Youtube page, he says:
"I sometimes get remarks about the film being too simplistic and that it does not accurately show the suffering of any one side. I agree, it IS simplistic because it has to be in order to be a comedy. This film is not meant to be a learning tool for the situation in the Middle East. It is not an historical explanation, or a political solution on screen. It is a movie about HOPE and PEACE and that is it. It is meant to counteract the multitudes of negative documentaries and news reports that, while very informative, usually seem to be skewed to one side and ALWAYS leave the viewer feeling like this conflict will go on forever. I truly believe that peace between Israelis and Arabs will be achieved and don't believe it is a hopeless endeavor. We wanted to make a film that would convey that feeling." (More here)