Palestinian Cinema @ Beit Zatoun
Laila's Birthday (2008)
"Laila's Birthday" chronicles a day in the life of a Palestinian cab driver played by veteran Palestinian actor, Mohammed Bakri. The day also happens to be his daughter's seventh birthday. Abu Laila is actually a former judge who, due to budget cuts, is now forced to drive a taxi, owned by his brother-in-law, to support his wife and child. The "plot" of the movie consists of little more than a series of deliberately undramatic and wryly humorous vignettes and the cross section of humanity that passes through his cab that day. His passengers include a just-paroled ex-con, an amorous young couple looking for a place to be alone, a woman on her way to the cemetery and the hospital, and another woman whose husband has just been killed in a car bombing.
As conceived by writer/director Rashid Masharawi and embodied by the finely stoic and deadpan actor, Mohammed Bakri, Abu is remarkably reticent for a central character - one who rarely articulates his thoughts about the people and events taking place around him. Yet, one senses in the man an undercurrent of frustration arising from having to live in an occupied territory - the West Bank city of Ramallah - a frustration that Abu finally gives vent to in the closing moments of the story. Otherwise, the movie doesn't push its political points and doesn't go for grand dramatic gestures and themes. It merely observes daily life as this one man witnesses it, finding humor in some of the unlikeliest of places.
PALESTINE/TUNISIA/NETHERLANDS | 2008 | 71 min |Arabic | Subtitles
Rashid Masharawi born in Gaza in 1962 to a family of refugees from Jaffa, he grew up in the Shati refugee camp. He now lives and works in Ramallah, where he founded the Cinema Production and Distribution Center in 1996 with the aim of promoting local film productions. He also sponsors a mobile cinema, which screen films in Palestinian refugee camps. Other projects include the annual Kids Film Festival and major workshops on film production and directing. Rashid Masharawi regularly organises readings and discussion forums at the Al-Matal cultural centre.
Need to know:
- Doors open at 6:50 pm
- $5 admission
- Accessible on demand via portable ramp; washrooms not accessible
- Please avoid using strong-scented products due to sensitivities
Tasty refreshments (non-alcoholic) and Zatoun oliveoil+za'atar dipping.