In Fair Palestine: A story of Romeo and Juliet
DVD2008 50 Minutes
Romeo and Juliet adapted to present day Palestine.
A film produced by Palestinian high school students at the Quaker-run Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank. A documentary drama, it puts the story of Romeo and Juliet in the modern-day context of life in a Palestinian city, Ramallah.
Work on the project was initiated in January 2006 by Doug Hart, an English Teacher. According to the students, the film is designed to humanise Palestinians and show the side of Palestine that does not always make its way into film. The film is made in the form of dramatic scenes interspersed with documentary pieces, so as to convey the lives of Palestinian teenagers.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare, the movie deals with the lives of two star-crossed Palestinian lovers as they grapple with the realities of their everyday lives. In this adaptation Romeo and Juliet meet at a party celebrating the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. They are wed in secret by a sheikh, and Romeo does not hear of Juliet's faked death because a messenger sent to bring him the news is stopped at an Israeli checkpoint.
Hart proposed the idea to create the film and gathered together a group of students to work on the project. Students did background research on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. During 2007 the writers and the director worked on the script and in January 2008 the film was finished. Tarek Knorn, one of the students involved as a co-writer and as an actor, playing the role of Mercutio, explained why the students chose to do an adaptation of Shakespeare's play: "We thought we would use a play that has values and principles that are shared by people all over the world. Issues that people all over the world have to deal with and learn from such as arranged marriages, love at first sight, teenage life, etc. We felt it was a good idea and saw it as our first chance to express ourselves in a manner different from the way the news represents us.”