Last updated 11:35PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Spotlight On DIFF Part 4
(2008-02-19)
Top: Staff at the Hummus Hut (left) and Kosher King (right) square off. Bottom: Fatima (left) and David are not dissuaded in their 'love' despite the dispute. (Coutesy: West Bank Story)
(ksut) - ROBB BRANTLEY: WE HAVE EVERYTHING FROM ONE MINUTE TO ABOUT 45 MINUTES. WE HAVE ANIMATED, WE'VE GOT LIVE ACTION, SOME OF THEM ARE COMEDIC, SOME ARE DRAMATIC, THERE'S A LITTLE VIOLENCE, THERE'S A LITTLE LOVE. PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING YOU CAN FIND IN A FILM, WE HAVE SOME SHORTS THAT DO THAT.
Robb Brantley knows shorts.
As a member of the DIFF shorts screening committee, he and others viewed dozens of short films to select those showing at this years festival.
And among those selected is a 2007 Oscar Award Winner for Best Short Film, Live Action.
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West Bank Story is a musical comedy about two competing falafel stands on the West Bank, the Hummus Hut and Kosher King.
To understand the plot, all you need to do is think West Side Story, in a hot spot of the world.
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Director Ari Sandel told me he really wanted to make a movie that would help him get his next job.
SANDEL: AND I REALLY WANTED TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT WAS 'A' GOING TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH, BUT ALSO BE A MOVIE THAT WAS PRO-PEACE, HAS A POSITIVE MESSAGE, DEALT WITH THE SITUATION IN AN EVEN HANDED MANNER. I REALLY AM INTERESTED IN THE SITUATION AND FELT LIKE I HAD A LOT TO SAY AND I THOUGHT I HAD A GOOD KIND OF COMEDIC ANGLE INTO THE STORY.
Sandel actually ended up scrapping his first plan after getting feedback.
SANDEL: THE FIRST VERSION I WROTE WAS ABOUT SUICIDE BOMBERS AND CHECKPOINTS, AND IT WAS REALLY UNFUNNY, AND PEOPLE WERE LIKE "LOOK, YOU'RE GOING TO UPSET EVERY JEW AND EVERY ARAB, IT'S JUST NOT A WAS KIND OF DEALING WITH ALL THE HARSH REALITIES OF THE SITUATION AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE LIKE, LOOK, DON'T MAKE THE MOVIE, YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T DO IT, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE GOOD, YOU'RE GOING TO KILL YOUR CAREER,YOU'RE GOING TO UPSET EVERYBODY. AND I REALLY TOOK IT TO HEART SO I SHELVED THE PROJECT FOR AWHILE. BUT I KEPT THINKING ABOUT IT AND THINKING ABOUT IT. AND THEN I TEAMED UP WITH MY CO-WRITER, HER NAME IS KIM RAY, AND THAT'S WHEN WE CAME UP WITH A NEW APPROACH WHICH WAS THIS KIND OF MORE ABSURDIST APPROACH. WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO SAY BOTH SIDES HAVE MORE IN COMMON THAN THEY CARE TO ADMIT, WELL, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THEY HAVE IN COMMON? ONE OF THE THINGS IS FOOD AND WE SAID, ALL RIGHT, WHAT IF IT WAS FAST FOOD, WHAT IF IT WAS RESTAURANTS, WHAT IF IT WAS RIDICULOUS LIKE FALAFEL STANDS AND WE DID THE FALAFEL STANDS IN AN AMERICAN FAST FOOD KIND OF WAY WHICH IS EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THOSE OVER THERE. SO WE PUT THE PEOPLE FROM THE HUMMUS HUT WEAR KABOB HATS AND THE PEOPLE FROM THE KOSHER KING WEAR FALAFEL HATS AND THAT'S CLEARLY NO MIDDLE EASTERN, BUT THAT WAS THE POINT.
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Sandel says he was never under any delusions about what he calls, his dopey little comedy.
SANDEL: I NEVER THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BRING PEACE TO THE MIDDLE EAST OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. I JUST THOUGHT IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE SOMETHING OUT THERE THAT WAS OUT THERE THAT WAS PROMOTING SOMETHING POSITIVE REGARDING THE SITUATION AND SAYING SOMETHING OTHER THAN HEY, WE SHOULD HATE THE OTHER SIDE, OR THE OTHER SIDE IS ALL WRONG AND WE'RE ALL RIGHT. SO, THAT I THINK HAS BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL.
West Bank Story has also been successful in other ways.
In addition to the Oscar, it's won 25 other awards and has been show at 170 film festivals.
And in the three years since it was first released, it's kept Sandel busy.
SANDEL: I WAS INVITED BY A THINK TANK SPONSORED BY THE PENTAGO TO PRESENT IT AT A TERRORISM CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON D.C. I'VE DONE SOME STUFF WITH THE STATE DEPARTMENT NOW. I'VE SHOWN IT IN RAMMALLAH, I'VE SHOWN IT IN JERUSALEM, DUBAI, TURKEY, TURKEY, EUROPE, IT'S PLAYED ALMOST ALL OVER EVERY CONTINENT, SO IT'S BEEN A REAL LONG LONG UNEXPECTED PATH OF A GREAT JOURNEY.
In addition to West Bank Story, DIFF will feature shorts ranging from the one minute long "I Am Not A Biscuit" to some running 45 minutes.
And Robb Brantley says this year, they are offering three specific topical shorts programs.
BRANTLEY: THE FIRST ONE IS WE CALL RELATIONSHIPS AND IT'S ALL ABOUT DIFFERENT KINDS OF RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN PEOPLE, ANIMALS AND THERE'S EVEN ONE ABOUT MACHINES. THEN WE HAVE ANOTHER PROGRAM CALLED CONFLICT, AND IT'S ABOUT VARIOUS TYPES OF CONFLICTS. AND AGAIN THIS YEAR WE HAVE ANOTHER PROGRAM OF EXPERIMENTAL AND ANIMATION, SO A COUPLE OF THE FILMS IN THAT ARE COMPUTER GENERATED GRAPHICS, SOME OF THEM ARE TRAIDITIONAL ANIMATION HANDDRAWN, SOME OF THEM ARE COMPUTER GRAPHIC, ER, COMPUTER ANIMATION.
One of the three shorts programs will be offered each day of the festival.
With this Spotlight on DIFF, I'm Victor Locke, for KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio.
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