David & Fatima
|David & Fatima|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alain Zaloum|
|Produced by||Tammi Sutton|
|Written by||Kari Bian
|Starring||Cameron Van Hoy
|Music by||Michael J. Lloyd|
|Edited by||Richard Francis-Bruce
Kimberly Generous White
David & Fatima is a 2008 drama film about a Palestinian woman and Israeli man from Jerusalem who fall in love. The film is a retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, and was directed by Alain Zaloum, and stars Cameron Van Hoy, Danielle Pollack, Merik Tadros, Anthony Batarse, Ismail Kanater, Sasha Knopf, John Bryant Davila, Ben Kermode, Allan Kolman Tony Curtis and Martin Landau. This was the last fictional movie Tony Curtis starred in.
The film encourages Arab Israeli peace.
Kari Bian, the executive producer and one of the writers, is an Iranian American living in Malibu, California. He recalled that he encountered hostility during a visit to Israel. Tavia Dautartas, the other producer, is also a Malibu resident. Alain Zaloum, the director and the other writer, is a Cairo-born Copt who during childhood moved to Canada. He had graduated from the film school of the University of Southern California (USC). Bian selected Zaloum because Zaloum was not Jewish nor was he Muslim, since Bian did not want to give favoritism to either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Zaloum was the seventh director that had been hired; the producers fired the previous six choices for director. Richard Francis-Bruce did editing work.
The film was almost completely shot in Los Angeles, and shooting took place for five weeks. Tim Worman, the art director, developed areas to appear like the film's settings. Some exterior shots were actually made in Israel. Dialect coaches trained the actors. In addition the actors read history texts about the conflict region. The film's budget was $600,000 ($667418.86 adjusted for inflation).
Americans portrayed almost all of the major characters.
- David Isaac - Cameron Van Hoy
- Alain Zaloum stated that he modeled David after himself as he is married to a woman with a different religion. Van Hoy, who is not Jewish, directly applied for the acting role instead of using an agent. Van Hoy was in New York City during the September 11, 2001 attacks, and according to him he used that experience while portraying David.
- Fatima Aziz - Danielle Pollack
- Pollack, a Jewish woman who originates from New York, is not an Arab. Seth Frantzman of the Jerusalem Post wrote that few Arab women portrayed fictional Arab females in similar films. Her role as Fatima was her first professional film job. Despite her inexperience, Van Hoy gave the filmmakers the suggestion of using Pollack; Pollack and Van Hoy first met each other as students at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Pollack stated that through working on the film, she "got to see both sides clearly" and that she learned "there are two sides of the story". As part of her research she put on a hijab and went shopping at a supermarket to absorb how others around her reacted.
- Rabbi Schmulic - Martin Landau
- Benny Isaac - Allan Kolman
- Ishmael Aziz - Anthony Batarse
- Aiida Aziz - Yareli Arizmendi
- Sarah Isaac (David's Mother) - Colette Kilroy
- Kilroy originates from Malibu
- Mr. Schwartz - Tony Curtis
- Hassan Faraj - Merik Tadros
- Tami Isaac - Sascha Knopf
- Avi Weinstein - Ben Kermode
- IDF Recruitment Officer - Michael Yavnielli
- Christian Priest - Joey Naber
- Imam - Ismail Kanater
- IDF Soldier - John Bryant Davila
Frantzman wrote that the film's depiction of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was "accurate", "gritty", and "sometimes unflattering". He added that Beit Hanina an Arab doctor's house in real life would be more luxurious than the one the film portrays; in addition Frantzman stated that in Jerusalem he had never encountered a bellydancing restaurant like one portrayed in the film and he did not believe such a restaurant existed.
A screening at the Laemmle 4-Plex Theater in Santa Monica, California was scheduled to run until July 25, 2008. On September 12, 2008, the film premiered in Beverly Hills, California. The filmmakers intended to distribute the film throughout the United States and in Israel. There are subtitles available in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian.
Frantzman wrote that because ordinary Israelis prefer American films and the upper class prefers "self-critical" films, David & Fatima "received almost no attention in Israel".
Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times criticized the "somewhat ersatz quality" that he says originates from the casting of Americans who made "a jumble of imprecise accents that makes one long for native speech and English subtitles."
Frantzman himself concluded "David and Fatima presents an honest story, but one that also doesn't work in the end."
- Savitz, Masha. "Shakespearean-Style Drama Set in Modern Jerusalem" (Archive). Epoch Times. September 18–24, 2008. p. B1. Alternate (Archive). Retrieved on February 26, 2015.
- "A love story set in a conflicted Middle East" (Archive). Malibu Times. Wednesday July 2, 2008. Retrieved on February 26, 2015.
- Spiro, Joshua. "David and Fatima: An Israeli - Palestinian Love Story" (Archive). Jewish Post. Retrieved on February 27, 2015.
- Goldstein, Gary. "Love crosses a divide in the Mideast" (Archive). Los Angeles Times. June 30, 2008. Retrieved on February 26, 2015.
- Frantzman, Seth. "Terra Incognita: Fear and loathing in Jerusalem: Coexistence through film?" (Opinion) (Archive). The Jerusalem Post. December 22, 2009. See profile. Retrieved on February 26, 2015.
- Binenfeld, Molly. "Film about interfaith lovers takes Shakespearian turn" (Archive). Jewish Journal. July 23, 2008.