In 2005 a short film debuted taking one of the hottest conflicts in the world and bringing a message of peace and hope through a musical comedy. The plan for West Bank Story as a take-off of the classic musical “West Side Story” sounds like a recipe for disaster. Two competing falafel stands, Kosher King and Hummus Hut are side by side. The Israel and Palestinian families running these falafel stands are destroying each other, but the budding romance between David, an Israeli soldier, and Fatima, the cashier at Hummus Hut, opens new possibilities.
Director Ari Sandel and writer Kim Rey pull off the impossible with careful attention to balance. As Sandel said in an interview: “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.”
The film has been shown and well received in both Jewish and Arab film festivals. It received the 2006 Academy Award for best Live Action Short Film.
Here’s the movie–laugh and ponder and enjoy:
The website for “West Bank Story” provides more information as well as how to purchase the musical: Click here for “West Bank Story.”