‘David’ explores friendship across cultural, religious divide
Mar 07, 2013 | 915 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Utah Film Center, in collaboration with the Grand County Public Library, will present a free screening of “David,” an award-winning film about an unlikely friendship between two boys of differing cultural and religious backgrounds.

The film will be shown at the Grand County Library, 257 E. Center St., at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 11.

“David” is “a street-level look at an 11-year-old Muslim boy’s struggle to fit in within his family, community and the wider world,” according to the film’s website.

In the film, Daud (Muatasem Mishal), the son of the Imam of the local Brooklyn mosque, attempts to juggle the high expectations of his father (Maz Jobrani) and his feelings of isolation and being different, even from his peers in the Muslim community. When he inadvertently befriends a group of Jewish boys who mistake him as a fellow classmate at their orthodox school in the neighboring Jewish community, a friendship grows between Daud and Yoav, one of the Jewish boys, and his family. Unable to resist the joy of a camaraderie that he has never felt before, David, as he is known to the Jewish boys, faces a dilemma that ultimately leads to complications and deceit.

Co-writer and director Joel Fendelman has said the story is inspired by his own feelings of being different as a child.

“I grew up in Miami, where most of the population is Hispanic and I was one of the very few Jewish kids in my high school. It’s not that I experienced extreme prejudice or anything of that matter, but just something that I think most people can relate to, the feeling of not fitting in,” Fendelman said in an interview posted on the film’s website. “Fast-forward 15 years, and I’m living in New York City post 9/11. I remember riding the subway and seeing a traditionally dressed Muslim man enter the train. The first thoughts that came to mind were, ‘I wonder if he’s a terrorist.’ Days later I sat with that thought, bothered by my ignorance I decided to learn more about Muslim Arab culture.”

Fendelman began working as a volunteer at the Arab American Association in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where he helped teach English to immigrant Muslim women and led a youth group during the summer.

“It was one of the most profound experiences where I learned that my preconceived notions were of course untrue and I was completely embraced as a Jew and an American,” he said.

The story for “David” began to take form and Fendelman teamed up with co-writer Patrick Daly to write the script.

“David” is the winner of the 2011 Ecumencial Prize at the Montreal Film Festival; the Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival; and was selected for the 2011 Rome International Film Festival, the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival and the 2011 Napa Valley Film Festival.

“Variety” magazine film critic Dennis Harvey called the film, “quietly engaging” and said the movie “brings charm, sympathy and understatement to its microcosmic story of a young Muslim Brooklynite whose circumstances lead him to pass as Jewish ...”

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