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Arranged is a 2007 American independent film produced by Cicala Filmworks. The film was written by Stefan Schaefer and is based in part on the story of Rochel Meshenberg, an Orthodox Jewish woman from Borough Park, Brooklyn and her friendship with a young Muslim woman. Schaefer co-directed and produced the film with his long-time collaborator Diane Crespo.
|Directed by||Diane Crespo|
|Produced by||Diane Crespo|
|Written by||Stefan Schaefer|
|Music by||Sohrab Habibion|
|Edited by||Erin Greenwall|
|Distributed by||Cicala Filmworks|
The film centers on two young women; one an Orthodox Jew named Rochel, the other a devout Muslim named Nasira; who meet and become friends at a public school in Brooklyn, and eventually bond over the similarities of feeling like an outsider because of their conservatism in their faiths. They learn that they share a lot in common, not least of which is that they are both going through arranged marriages.
Nasira is shown being very contemporary in the privacy of her home, where her father is also shown to be open-minded to the opinions of his wife and daughter. Nasira's family is also more welcoming of her friendship with a Jew, than Rochel's family is with her friendship with a Muslim. This is shown when each woman visits the other's home.
Nasira is shown not to be the oppressed Muslim woman that Western society stereotypes her faith as; she lets the principal of the school know that her father doesn't make her wear her hijab, that it's her choice. She also works as an elementary teacher in a diverse public school (which means she has an advanced education); and when she felt disgusted by an older man that her father had set up for her as a potential suitor, he agreed that he was not the right one. She also seemed to have more independence than Rochel did.
Rochel, on the other hand, feels the pressure of her strict faith, especially the urgency from her mother to be married. She goes to a matchmaker who sets her up on dates, but none of the men interest her. She is also questioning her orthodox faith and one night goes to a cousin's apartment, who had left the Orthodox community herself. There she gets a glimpse of what leaving her orthodox life would be like, but ultimately decides to return home instead.
Rochel is a para to a special-needs Hispanic boy who is in Nasira's class, and her friendship with Nasira develops as they learn more about each other in and out of school.
When Nasira has found her perfect match, she tries to help Rochel find her match too - who happens to be an Orthodox Jew who is in her brother's study group at college. She gets his information and passes it along to Rochel's matchmaker.
The film ends with Nasira and Rochel both married, sitting in the park with their babies in their strollers, talking about their husband and married life.
Festivals and distributionEdit
The film premiered at the 2007 South by Southwest Film Festival, won top prizes at The Berkshire International Film Festival, The Brooklyn International Film Festival, The Washington Jewish Film Festival, The Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival, and The Skip City International D-Cinema Film Festival in Japan. The film is distributed in North America by New York-based Film Movement. Internationally, the film is sold by Visit Films, and has been distributed in more than 40 countries.
- "Carnegie 10 International Film Series – Arranged". St. Lawrence University. Retrieved November 24, 2018.