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Film / West Bank Story

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West Bank Story is a short musical comedy film from 2005, directed by Ari Sandel. In 2006 it won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

The film is an Affectionate Parody of West Side Story set in the context of the Arab–Israeli Conflict. As such, follows the Romeo and Juliet story of Fatima, a Muslim restaurant employee, and David, a Jewish soldier, who are the close relatives of the antagonistic owners of two falafel restaurants in the West Bank: respectively, the Palestinian "Hummus Hut" and the Israeli "Kosher King". As David and Fatima's romance blossoms, the conflict between the two factions comes to a head. This being a comedy, however, the story resolves on a more positive note than its predecessor.


This production contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: David does not make any bad decisions and does not kill anyone, unlike the sympathetic anti-heroes he is based on, Romeo and Tony.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of West Side Story, with many comedic references to the earlier musical.
  • Angry Mob Song: "We're Gonna Build It".
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The employees of Hummus Hut and Kosher King wear hats displaying the food they sell; also, Kosher King has a mascot, a man dressed as a giant menorah. Lampshaded by Fatima when she is accosted by a soldier on the street.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Our People Must Be Fed" ends with a split screen showing the employees of the Hummus Hut and Kosher King finishing their song inside their respective restaurants. Ariel and Ahmed then turn and accuse each other of encroaching on their side of the screen.
  • Advertisement:
  • Burger Fool: Well, Duelling Falafel Fools at any rate.
  • Distant Duet: "When I See Him/Her".
  • Double Entendre: When Fatima gives David a bag of hummus, she tells him that she'll give it to him any time he wants, and quickly clarifies that she is referring to hummus.
  • Expy: The main characters are based on those from West Side Story: David = Tony, Fatima = Maria, Ariel = Riff, Ahmed = Bernardo.
  • Gang of Hats: The employees of the two rival establishments each have a uniform with a hilariously overdone hat decorated with a model of the food they sell.
  • Let the Past Burn: Both restaurants burn to the ground in the climax; in response, David and Fatima lead their respective factions to pool together their resources to serve the customers on an outdoor table.
  • Lighter and Softer: Very pronounced, in comparison to both West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet. Most importantly, there is much less violence and no death; only property destruction.
  • Love Across Battlelines: Naturally, considering what the story is based on.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Fatima chases a customer with a package of hummus that he left behind, and is accosted and interrogated by a Jewish soldier. Fortunately, David steps in and defuses the situation.
  • Oblivious to Love: At the beginning of the story, David and Fatima each love each other from afar, but each of them is unaware of the other's interest.
  • Recycled In Space: West Side Story in the twenty-first century Arab–Israeli Conflict!
  • Serious Business: In this story, the infamous conflict of Romeo and Juliet takes place between two... fast food restaurants.
  • Shout-Out: Many of them, to West Side Story:
    • The opening number involves the two groups snapping their fingers and dancing in a similar way to the Jets and Sharks.
    • "When I See Him" is highly reminiscent of "I Have a Love".
    • "We're Gonna Build It" strongly recalls the "Tonight" Quintet from Act 1 of the earlier musical.
    • "This Moment is All We Have" takes place during an iconic "balcony scene", during which David calls to Fatima to come down, and then ascends himself.
    • At the end of the story, David promises Fatima that if their families cannot stop fighting, he will "take you to a place called... Beverly Hills'', a reference to "Somewhere".
  • The Song Before the Storm: The Angry Mob Song "We're Gonna Build It" counterpoised with David and Fatima's tender duet "This Moment is All We Have".
  • Spared by the Adaptation: David, Ahmed and Ariel's counterparts in West Side Story all died.
  • Twice Shy: David and Fatima, in spades. They even sing a Distant Duet about how each wishes the other would notice them. It is only when Fatima is Mistaken for Terrorist by David's colleague, and David steps in to intervene, that they actually meet and talk for the first time.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fatima calls out both factions for their behavior when each celebrates the destruction of the other's restaurant, after which David steps up and fells the wall separating the two properties.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: There are no villains; David and Fatima are the most heroic characters, and both manage to persuade their respective factions to, at least grudgingly, work together at the end.

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