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|Index||19 reviews in total|
I saw West Bank Story yesterday at the opening of the Boston International Film Festival. Despite being only 22 minutes in length, the director, Ari Sandel, brilliantly takes a parodistic approach to the movie-musical genre, but combines this with a satirical, yet poignant perspective on the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. All of this is woven together, even while honoring the original inspiration for the plot (Romeo and Juliet, and later, West Side Story). Prepare yourself for dancing menorahs, choreographed falafel-making, and a full dose of ethnic stereotypes. The final product is visibly well-rehearsed, to-the-point, and quite hysterical. Go see this film!
I just saw this at the Boulder International Film Festival, and it was the highlight of the comedies. West Bank Story is a ruthlessly funny send-up of everything from Middle East tension to Hollywood musicals. I have no idea how much the filmmakers spent, but they went over the top for what appears to be a student film (USC). Great casting, music including a complete orchestral score, writing, production design - this has it all, especially for a short. I hope director Ari is able to find a career in Hollywood, because he deserves it. (OK, IMDb is forcing me to write more, so I'll tell you the movie featured a camel, clever sets, etc.)
West Bank Story is a truly creative and original short film, retelling
the tale of West Side Story in the context of the Middle East.
Specifically, two neighboring fast-food restaurants in the West Bank -
one Jewish and one Arab.
As a musical, well, let's just call it a comedy, since the musical numbers are funnier than they are musically brilliant. But hey, it's a spoof, and social satire, and on both counts West Bank Story does really well.
The film does a great job of making fun of both "sides" equally. The satire manages to be both good-natured and poignant, fearless yet never heavy. There are many good in jokes that those who have spent time in the West Bank will appreciate if you watch closely, such as the green line separating the two sides in a split-screen moment...
Yes, it's wall-to-wall stereotypes here, but... can't we have a little fun with this? I can't imagine that having a sense of humor could make things any worse. And laughter has a healing power, so enjoy the good medicine in West Bank Story.
I was fortunate to have seen this film at the Santa Cruz Film Festival this year and it was fantastic!! Humor, political satire, song, what's not to love? I was especially impressed with the quality of the writing - very sharp and funny- and the acting and film-making overall. Really well done and thoroughly entertaining. I expected to see some familiar names in the credits, say Spielberg or some such, but was surprised to learn it was a student film from USC. Top notch production quality and talent. The story line was so true to the Shakespearean plots in Romeo and Juliet (and West Side Story) but with a modern twist and sensibilities. Very timely political spin on the tensions of the West Bank. I will be looking for this on DVD as well as watching for new projects from this creative team. A must see!
Although it lasts just 22 minutes, "West Bank Story" does a beautiful job of entertaining and educating the audience. The backdrop of the West Bank is a perfect setting for this poignant, playful take on the traditional "Romeo and Juliet" story. It is clear that all involved with this film paid great attention to detail; from the costumes to the cinematography to the conversations, every element is vividly and engagingly conveyed. The satirical spins on Shakespeare, the musical genre, the ongoing political and ideological conflicts in the Middle East, and even the fast food industry make this a must-see. "WBS" was one of the true highlights of Sundance 2005...kudos to cast and crew on a job very well done. I made sure I was one of the first in line to add this short to my collection when it was released on DVD!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I adored this movie. After seeing that it won an Academy Award, I bought it and realized why it did. I'm from Egypt myself, and I was afraid that it would be partial to one side, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was very objective. It made fun of both equally, and at the same time, ended on a happy note with the two families working together. I completely disagree with the reviewer who posted before me, who said that it was biased towards the Israelis, namely because he didn't see any Muslims in the credits. Firstly, even if there were less Muslims in the credits, it doesn't mean that the Palestinian side wasn't shown. Secondly, I think they were portrayed very well and that both sides had some serious stereotypes. For example, the first Israelis you see consist of an Orthodox Jew, and a guy with a big nose! Anyway, I thought it was very well done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At only 18 minutes, it doesn't require much effort to see this small
but fine film. The setting is West Bank, Palestine, present day. The
Jews and Muslims co-exist, but in a slightly strained relationship. The
beginning is an homage to West Side Story, with similar groups and
choreography. Thus the name, "West Bank Story." And, true to its
inspiration, involves a budding love affair between a young man and a
young woman from different backgrounds.
The basic story involves competing fast-food stands, one Jewish and Kosher, the other Muslim. Each has its clientèle. Then, a mild altercation causes the Muslim hut to burn down, and while the Jews are watching and cheering, a spark floats over to burn the other down. In the end, all the people are still hungry and need to be fed, so they end up combining whatever is salvaged and feed the people.
True to its humor, at the end the girl worries that the Jews and the Muslims will not be able to get along. He says, "If not, I will take you to a place where I hear Jews and Muslims live in harmony ... Beverly Hills."
This film is hilarious! I just returned from the Sundance Film Festival, which is where I saw the film, and it got a great response from everyone in the audience. The cheers at the end were so loud, I was actually expecting a standing ovation. I attended the festival as an intern with the co-founders of the Harry M. Warner Film Institute. We're holding our first annual film festival this spring, and we went out to Sundance to see some films and get some more experience with festivals in general. After this show, both of my supervisors were so impressed that they approached the director of this film to see if he would be willing to submit a film to our festival. If you haven't seen this film yet, you are definitely missing out.
Just watched this Oscar-winning live-action short on YouTube. In a parody of West Side Story, a Jewish soldier and a Palestinian young lady fall in love despite each families' rival fast food restaurants standing close to each other amid their hostilities. There are plenty of funny gags that make fun of the two nationalities' customs and stereotypes but there's also some touching scenes between the couple as well as some satirical lines that cut through the sentimentality. And, yes, some songs that parody the "Romeo and Juliet in New York" musical that provide some of the brightest moments. All I can say now is, West Bank Story is well worth watching for anyone who loves seeing musical satire done with a sharp wit.
Ari Sandel was a film student when he directed and co-wrote this
amazing short film. Despite this less than impressive pedigree, the
film ended up winning the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for
2006 and is among the best shorts I have ever seen--and I've seen a
lot!! Considering the title, it wasn't too surprising that this film is
a gentle and funny parody of WEST SIDE STORY. However, instead of being
set in New York, it's on the West Bank and instead of the Sharks and
Jets, the two warring groups are Palestinians and Jews. Despite the
seriousness of the problems in Israel and the occupied territories, I
was happily surprised that the film was NOT heavy-handed and it was in
fact very, very funny. It was a gentle spoof of the problems and
hatreds and unless someone is a humorless idiot, there is a lot to love
in the film.
Of course there is a girl and a boy (just like in Romeo and Juliet) caught in the struggle--but instead of Capulettes and Montagues or Sharks and Jets, it's a struggle between rival fast food joints--the Kosher King and the Hummus Hut! The hats, the dialog, the songs all work together perfectly to create the mood and pull the viewer into the film.
Not at all surprisingly, this film won the Oscar but I also felt a bit sad for the losers that year, as HELMER & SON and ONE TOO MANY were also amazingly good (and funny) short films.
My advice is to see all of these films--they are included in the DVD "A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films"--a must-have for fans of the genre. Also, keep your eye out for Ari Sandel--that guy is going places and I can't wait to see what he does next! 10 out of 10--my very highest rating.
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