coexistence, My ass!
A feature-length documentary about Noam Shuster, an Israeli comedian whose potent political satire catapults her to viral popularity and uniquely positions her as a fresh voice in a stale Middle East. While an international pandemic rages, regional conflicts fester, and dinner-table debates with her family flare, Noam tries to do the “unthinkable” by using humor to fight for justice and equality for everyone.
COEXISTENCE, MY ASS! is an unfolding cinéma vérité tragicomedy that will make audiences laugh, cry and rethink their own place in the world… one joke at a time.
Help turn this inspiring story into a feature-length documentary
When you hear the name Noam Shuster — a tall, dark, voluptuous, Hebrew/Arabic/English/Farsi speaking comedian is not what first comes to mind. If God bestows the gift of complex identity, he may have gone too far with Noam Shuster. “I have the name of a Jewish MIT professor and the body of a Persian wonder woman.”
Noam is an Israeli anomaly, a mash-up of cultures. Her mother is a black-haired, brown-skinned Iranian Jew and her father the blond, blue-eyed son of Romanian Holocaust survivors. She was raised in “Oasis of Peace,” an intentional community made up of 50% Jews and 50% Palestinians — in a country hellbent on religious, ethnic, and national separation. “I grew up in a small pastoral suburban village perched on a hilltop with little white houses and red tile roofs; you know like a settlement just with Arabs.”
She learned Hebrew at home and Arabic in school and on the playground — unlike most Israeli Jews who, if they learn Arabic at all, do so as recruits for military intelligence. Her parents always told her: “You’re the ‘model’ of what Israelis should look like, and be like.” Taller than most children and more outspoken than most adults, Noam alwatys felt like the odd-girl-out; being funny was her defense mechanism. Today, as a grown woman, it’s her super-power.
Reckoning with laughter
Reckoning with Laughter is a short film that we produced originally for Al Jazeera for their flagship documentary program Witness. It has been nominated for the SIMA global impact awards and a Foreign Press Association Media Award. The film is currently featured on The New Yorker online.
Responses to this short version of the film have given us an indication of what is to come…
What Viewers Are Saying
“This is one of the most beautiful documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s proof! Full proof that it isn’t an impossible situation.”
"Wow that last speech on stage was outstanding. Amazing, gave me goosebumps and shivers."
“This film left me sobbing. Thank you for your work in comedy, and human rights. I hope your message of peace reaches so many. God bless. 🙏🏼❤️”
“Thank you so much for sharing this film. I can’t tell you how beneficial it is. As a Palestinian American whose family was forced from their Jerusalem home… and helped lead the Builders of Peace initiative… it is so critical that we remove the veil from people’s eyes so they understand our plight and see why this conflict is not a ‘clash’.”
“This is the BEST Palestine - Israel documentary I have ever watched. Noam, you are an angel.”
"This woman kills it, she's fantastic. It's the job of comedians to be bold social critics, bring to the fore all manner of injustice and wrong, break the silence, and move issues forward by stimulating debate and conversation. Bravo!"
“No matter if you are Jewish or Arabic or whatever you are just be a human and stand with the right ❤️🇵🇸 love you from Hebron ❤️😊”
“Wow, seeing this gave me so much hope for the future! It’s utterly beautiful! Standing up for what’s right is always hard but Noam does it so well and makes us laugh while watching subject matter heavy to digest. Together we are stronger ❤️”
“For the 20 minutes I was watching this movie, my personal feelings of isolation were lifted. All of the nagging doubts I have about my own politics as an American Jew, like ‘maybe I really am crazy, maybe I really am a traitor, maybe I should just retreat into privilege and ignore the political situation forever,’ were instantly silenced by this film.”
“It is just and exactly what I believe needs to be done — to open up the cracks as much as possible, and do it with compassion, honesty and creativity.”
"My face is a mess of tears, such deep relief for having this story told and hearing Noam's demands and seeing her intellect and bravery shared this way."
Producers for a primetime current-events show offer Noam a guest spot on Israeli public television where she writes and performs satirical skits and opinion pieces in both Hebrew and Arabic. Many of her pieces have gone viral across the Middle East. Noam is doing what no one has done before: uniting Israelis and Arabs around their respective anti-government sentiments.
Peacebuilding Through Jokes in “Reckoning with Laughter” (The New Yorker)
Reckoning with Laughter: Noam Shuster returns to Israel (Al Jazeera Witness)
From peacekeeper to joke-maker: Israeli comedian Noam Shuster (Guardian)
Noam Shuster: An Israeli comedian speaks out | The Stream (Al Jazeera interview)
WATCH: Al Jazeera Produces a Film on Israeli Stand-up Comedian (Haaretz)
An Arabic-Speaking Jewish Stand-Up Comedian Talks About The Conflict (Times of Israel)
'Arabs couldn't believe there is a Jewish Israeli criticising Israel in Arabic' (Middle Eastern Monitor)
Yoga, singing, dancing. Inside a 'Coronavirus Hotel' (CNN)
'Everybody's Getting Along Here': How 'Hotel Corona' United Israelis And Palestinians (NPR)
This Jewish Comedian Offered to Marry MBS – and Sparked an Instant Controversy (Haaretz)
'It’s Impossible to Reduce Me': The Most Up-and-coming Jewish Comedian Dares You to Put Her in a Box (Haaretz)
Amber Fares - Director/Producer
An award winning documentary filmmaker based in New York. Best known for her feature film SPEED SISTERS, broadcasted internationally on Netflix, Al Jazeera, and RAI. Her latest work includes Netflix's CONVERGENCE, BOYCOTT, AND SHE COULD BE NEXT, AMERICA INSIDE OUT with KATIE COURIC and Peabody Award winning THE JUDGE. Amber's work has been seen on Netflix, Al Jazeera, National Geographic, Hulu and PBS. She was a Sundance Momentum Fellow and Sundance Editing and Story Lab Fellow.
Rachel Leah Jones - Producer
A critically-acclaimed and award-winning documentary filmmaker, Rachel is a two-time Sundance alumna best known for her film ADVOCATE (2019) — which won an Emmy for Best Documentary and was shortlisted for the Oscars; GYPSY DAVY (2012), ASHKENAZ (2007), and 500 DUNAM ON THE MOON (2002). In addition to creating her own work, Rachel has produced extensively for others and been affiliated with alternative media outlets such as Democracy Now!
Philippe Bellaiche - Cinematographer
A critically-acclaimed and award-winning DP, Philippe is a two-time Sundance alumnus best known for his directing-debut ADVOCATE (2019) — which won an Emmy for Best Documentary and was shortlisted for the Oscars; Other titles include Avi Mograbi's AVENGE BUT ONE OF MY TWO EYES, Z32, ONCE I ENTERED A GARDEN, and BETWEEN FENCES; Shimon Dotan's HOTHOUSE and SETTLERS; and Eyal Sivan and Michel Khleifi's ROUTE 181.
Rabab Haj Yahya - Consulting Editor
Rabab was the editor on Legend of the Underground, Speed Sisters, Love the Sinner, An Act of Worship and The Feeling of Being Watched, which she won the Best Editing of A Feature Documentary at Woodstock International Film Festival. She attended the Sundance Edit and Story Labs in 2014 with Speed Sisters. Rabab is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and speaks English, Arabic, and Hebrew fluently.