News / Arts & Entertainment

Palestinian-Israeli Romance, Conflict as New York Comedy: 'Peace After Marriage'

Romantic Comedy with Dash of Middle East Conflict in 'Peace After Marriage'i
|| 0:00:00
Carolyn Weaver
March 25, 2014 5:44 PM
Peace After Marriage, a comedy by a Brooklyn filmmaker with Palestinian roots - and now on the film festival circuit in the U.S. and abroad - tells a story of love and culture clashes in New York City. VOA's Carolyn Weaver has more.
Carolyn Weaver
In Peace After Marriage, Arafat is a lonely, neurotic, pornography-addicted 30-year-old living in Brooklyn, New York, with Palestinian immigrant parents who want him to find a suitable bride, preferably a girl from "back home." It's a broad, sexually-frank comedy that looks to Woody Allen's early films for inspiration, although the satire is softer-edged, and the romance less ambivalent.
Writer-director Ghazi Albuliwi, who also stars in the film, says it is semi-autobiographical, although he doesn't admit to some of the broader aspects of the comedy: trying to dispose of a suitcase full of pornography, for example, Arafat is apprehended by New York police who suspect he's hiding a bomb.
Albuliwi, who was born in a refugee camp in Jordan to Palestinian parents who later immigrated to the U.S., grew up in Brooklyn, with friends from various backgrounds, he says, not only other Arab Americans, but blacks, whites, and Latinos.
"I was a street kid, and there was no racial divide in the streets, and that's what made me love this city a lot — there's a kind of cultural openness," he said in an interview at a bar near his home in Brooklyn.
"Really all I've ever known is Brooklyn," he said. "I'm probably more of a Brooklyn guy than I am an Arab guy. The big culture shock for me is the reverse: it's not Brooklyn, it's when I go 'back home.' And you see that in the movie."
He's referring to a scene in which Arafat flees an arranged marriage "back home," on the West Bank, and is pursued by angry relatives of the jilted bride. He throws himself at the feet of Israeli soldiers guarding a checkpoint. "Shalom! Do any of you guys know the way to the airport?"
Back in New York, still starved for female companionship, Arafat agrees to marry a young Middle Easterner seeking a green-card marriage to obtain permanent U.S. residency status. The hitch is that she is an Israeli Jew.
"And is she from Palestine?" his mother, played by Hiam Abbass, asks hopefully.
"We call it Palestine," Arafat answers. "She doesn't."
Last fall, Peace After Marriage became the first Arab-directed film chosen to open the Jerusalem Film Festival. It will be commercially released this summer in Turkey.
Albuliwi says it is a New-York-as-melting-pot story, and disclaims any political message.
"I think people bring in their perceptions and their baggage of the Palestinian conflict or the Israeli conflict, I was just writing about myself," he said. "I just thought it was  funny taking my life here in Brooklyn and using an Israeli girl who had come to New York — to take the politics out, and that's what I'm always looking to do."
Well, maybe not always. At the film's Abu Dhabi Film Festival premiere, Albuliwi joked that "sexual jihad" or an orgy might help bring peace to the Middle East — and he was subsequently boycotted by the Arab press.
"There's no joking in the Middle East," he said. "I think that's maybe the problem."
Albuliwi's next film is set in New York in the year after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and is a comedy about a young Arab American named Osama who can't get a date. Again, he said, it's inspired by his own experiences.
"It's basically about how Osama bin-Laden ruined my sex life after 9/11," he said. "I had this kind of invisible wall that I put up, because of a lot of guilt I felt. You're an Arab, a Muslim, and here you have this portrayal of your people on TV, and also you're a New Yorker, and you're like, 'Well, I'm just a New Yorker.'
"It's kind of like a film postcard to that time for me, and it's also about kind of regaining hope," he added. "But it also shows the city as a city that can really forgive, and a city that's culturally open to letting someone like me regain his life after the fact.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 29, 2014 11:47 AM
Oh, the Arabs (or do you mean muslims?) don't have jokes? My God! No wonder there's no humor out there. So what do they do, just shoot at people who smile or laugh? No wonder the devil is black!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Justin Haywardi
|| 0:00:00
October 07, 2015 11:57 AM
The Moody Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Justin Hayward sat down with Border Crossings host Larry London to talk about his career and perform songs from his solo CD, "Spirits from the Western Sky."

The Moody Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Justin Hayward sat down with Border Crossings host Larry London to talk about his career and perform songs from his solo CD, "Spirits from the Western Sky."