American Director Ari Sandel took a walk down the red carpet to receive his first Academy Award for his musical comedy of “West Bank Story,” in the best live action short film category on Sunday.
“I made a comedy, a musical about Israelis and Palestinians that takes place between two falafel stands in the West Bank, Sandel said after he received his Oscar. “It's a movie about peace and hope.”
The film focuses on two Falafel stands, the “Kosher King” run by Jewish settlers and “Hummus Hut,” run by Palestinians.
Fatima, the cashier, falls in love with Israeli soldier David despite conflict between their families, but the love story leads to the destruction of the two food stands. At the end of the film, both sides are forced to work together to fill the people’s appetite for hummus.
Sandel, born to an American mother and Israeli father visits Israel every year, but said he wanted to maintain balance in his film.
He chose to portray his thoughts through a musical comedy because it was “a way of abstracting the story of the conflict, taking the suffering out of it so that people can let down their defenses and identify with the characters on both sides.” He added in dancing because he said you always see them fighting, but never dancing together.
Israeli composer, Yuval Ron wrote the soundtrack for the film, mixing Arabic and Jewish styles together with Jazz. The actors were Jews and Palestinians who spoke in English unless they were cursing, they used Arabic and Hebrew.
“West Bank Story” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago in the short film competition. Sandel also showed the film at the Dubai Film Festival where Palestinians approached him and asked for a copy to show to their relatives in the territories.
“I decided I wanted to make a film that would give viewers a feeling that there is hope, because I really do believe peace between the sides is possible, that it can happen,” he said.