West Bank Story
|West Bank Story|
|Directed by||Ari Sandel|
|Produced by||Bill Boland
Amy S. Kim
|Written by||Kim Ray
|Music by||Yuval Ron|
|Edited by||Avi Youabian|
West Bank Story is a comedy/musical short film, directed by Ari Sandel, co-written by Sandel and Kim Ray, produced by Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ashley Jordan, Ravi Malhotra, Bill Boland, and featuring choreography by Ramon Del Barrio. The film is a parody of the classic musical film West Side Story, which in turn is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The film follows the romance between the relatives of the owners of rival falafel restaurants, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, respectively named the "Kosher King" and the "Hummus Hut," in the West Bank. The film stars Ben Newmark as the IDF soldier, Noureen DeWulf as the Palestinian cashier, A.J. Tannen as the Israeli restaurant owner, and Joey Naber as his Palestinian rival.
Filmed on a Santa Clarita ranch, the short premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and was screened at numerous additional film festivals across the world, garnering several awards. In 2007, at the 79th Academy Awards, it won the Oscar in the category Best Live Action Short Film.
The film begins with a scene in which the Palestinians and Jews are both snapping, similar to the opening scene of West Side Story. The two parties head in to their own stands and sing about their own family-owned falafel stands, Hummus Hut and Kosher King ("Our People Must Be Fed/Our People Must Be Served"). During the day, Hummus Hut employee Fatima and Kosher King relative David are daydreaming about each other ("When I See Him"). When Fatima rushes to give a customer his forgotten leftovers, she has a chance encounter with David, and they realize their mutual attraction.
Upon returning to the shop, Fatima finds the Kosher King Jews have built a large machine that encroaches onto their property. The head of Hummus Hut throws a rock into the machine, making it malfuncton, provoking a standoff between the two families (including David and Fatima). Ariel, head of the Kosher King, decides he is going to build a wall. After they leave, David and Fatima stay, and David plans to come to her balcony tonight.
The construction begins, and the Palestinians plan to end it abruptly ("We're Gonna Build It"). As such happens, David goes to Fatima's house ("This Moment Is All We Have"), wanting to kiss her, but Fatima refuses, saying it will only escalate the conflict. They head over to stop the fight. As they do, it is revealed to Fatima's family that they are in love. The following fight tips over a canister of gasoline, causing the entire stand to catch fire. David goes to warn the Israelis, who celebrate - until an ember reaches the Kosher King, which proceeds to catch on fire. As the Hummus Hut denizens celebrate, Fatima points out to everyone that they are only making their lives worse.
The next morning, expectant falafel customers are oblivious to the fire, and still want food. Ahmed and Ariel have nothing, but David and Fatima scrape together some of the remaining food, merging the two falafel stands. After the others are working, David and Fatima kiss. At the very end, Fatima asks what will happen if their families cannot stop fighting. David says he will "take you to a place called... Beverly Hills", alluding to the song "Somewhere" in West Side Story.
- Now Film Festival
- Indianapolis International Film Festival
- Audience Award - Best Short
- Malibu Film Festival
- Special Jury Award - Best Live Action Short Film
- Method Fest
- Special Mention
- Stony Brook Film Festival
- Festival Grand Prize
- Official website
- West Bank Story at the Internet Movie Database
- 79th Annual Academy Awards
- Interview feature by CNN International's Inside the Middle East (video)
- The Haaretz (Feb. 2007), Musical comedy on West Bank wins Oscar for best live action short film