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
...  
🔇
X
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 Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”