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'Syrian Bride' Reflects Fractured Lives

The Syrian Bride is a film by director Eran Riklis, an Israeli Jew. Most of the cast of the Arabic-language film is Palestinian-Israeli, as is the screenwriter.

But despite collaboration on and off the set, the movie's plot explores the Middle East conflict through lives fractured by the region's harsh political realities.

It's about a Druze family in the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory the Israelis have occupied since 1967. Since then, the Druze in Golan have been cut off from the Druze in Syria. The religion is an 11th-century offshoot of Islam.

When the family arranges to marry its daughter to a Druze from Damascus, the wedding must be held at the border.

"The first two lines I wrote for this script were 'Mona's wedding day was the saddest day of her life' and 'She knew that once she crosses the border she will never be able to come back to her family in the Golan Heights,'" director Riklis recalls.

"And these are the lines that I normally pitched, and I think the fact that it was a sad wedding day caught the ears of many people."

Robert Siegel talks to Riklis about critics of his film's portrayals of Israeli characters, the burdens of being an artist in the region and whether collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers is possible.

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Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.