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L.A. Jewish Journal: "Oscar-winner Sandel gets Cine-Peace Award"

Oscar-winning director Ari Sandel ("West Bank Story") racked up yet another prize when Americans for Peace Now presented him the 2008 Cine-Peace Award.
Rebecca Tobias representing APN presents award to Ari Sandel

10/2/08

By Danielle Berrin

Oscar-winning director Ari Sandel ("West Bank Story") racked up yet another prize when Americans for Peace Now presented him the 2008 Cine-Peace Award.

"I never in my wildest dreams expected the film to go as far as it did," Sandel said during his acceptance speech.

Sandel spoke at length about traveling the world and being surprised by the number of people who had seen his musical comedy -- a film about two competing falafel stands in the West Bank.

In Beirut, he said, a girl overheard him talking about his film at a restaurant. She approached him to say she managed to get a bootlegged version.

He was even well received in Chechnya, a country both the U.S government and his mother told him to avoid.

Sandel says he still receives e-mails from people the world over about how his film has affected them. Some, he says, have only seen the Jewish community as it is portrayed on screen.

The Cine-Peace event, held Sept. 22 at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood, also presented a number of other films that offered a perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some members of the audience cried as they watched "Holy Land -- Common Ground: Unbroken Circle," a heartbreaking documentary that focuses on Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones in the conflict.

In the Israeli film "Roads," a 13-year-old boy escapes the drug-infested city of Lod. At one point in the film, Ismayil is heard saying that two dead Arabs are nothing but that one dead Jew makes for a headline.

After the films, people shared dessert and each other's company.

"It was very emotional," Debbie Tehrani said. But "it turned out to be a good night and a very interesting event."

-- Lilly Fowler, Contributing Writer