Screening: Eid Milad Laila (Laila's Birthday) by Rashid Masharawi, starring Mohammed Bakri

Wed, January 20, 2010 7:00 pm at Tribeca Cinemas

(View all screenings »)

Palestine/Tunisia/Netherlands, 2008, 72 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles

With: Mohammed Bakri, Areen Omari, Nour Zoubi, Saleh Bakri.

A moving and humorous tale of a Palestinian taxi driver just trying to get home in time for his daughter’s birthday.

To Purchase tickets: $10, click here

Gaza-born director Rashid Masharawi captures the absurdity of the Palestinian situation in this comically deadpan, stop-and-start “road trip” through the land of checkpoints and barriers. A former judge who still retains his regal bearing, Abu Laila (stone-faced Mohamed Bakri, a Palestinian Buster Keaton) now drives a taxi to make ends meet. His customers are a motley cross-section of Ramallah’s citizens: a young Romeo who hires the taxi to have a place “alone” with his lover; a housewife who’ll stop anywhere there’s a free-food giveaway (“Is this Fatah? Hamas? Who knows? I just saw a line and got in”), armed militia members (to whom Abu Laila points out the “NO SMOKING” and “NO AK-47s” signs) and, in one dramatically complicated case, an ex-convict who leaves his cell phone in the cab. Our harried hero is also trying to regain his former position (his frequent trips to the Ministry of Justice are both comical and heart-breaking) and, today at least, needs a birthday cake for his daughter. Using Abu Laila’s travails as a window into contemporary Palestine,

Masharawi reveals a situation both more complicated than one could image and one that is universally human. Most of all, he captures the surprising beauty of Ramallah (“I wanted the city to be a character and different from the way others have depicted it before,” he notes) and the unshakable spirit of its people. “Through [Abu Laila] we can face ourselves as Palestinians,” says Masharawi, “and where we are going in all this.”

About the Director:

Rashid Masharawi was born and raised in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. A painter and installation artist as well as director, he made his feature debut with 1993's Curfew, which won the UNESCO Award at Cannes. His credits include Haifa (1996), Ticket to Jerusalem (2002), and Waiting (SFIFF 2006), as well as documentaries Long Days in Gaza (1991) and Live from Palestine (2003). In 1996 he founded the Cinema Production and Distribution Center, which offers workshops to Palestinian youth and sponsors the Mobile Cinema Project, bringing film screenings to refugee camps.


From the Village Voice
From Variety Magazine
Watch trailer here

Last updated: 2010-01-05 17:46:53

Mohammed Bakri
Mohammed Bakri

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