Eid Milad Laila
Palestine/Tunisia/Netherlands, 2008, 72 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 6:30 / Kabuki / LAIL25K
Mon, Apr 27 / 3:30 / Kabuki / LAIL27K
Tue, Apr 28 / 7:00 / Kabuki / LAIL28K
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.”
In Arabic with English subtitles. Presented in association with the Arab Film Festival. West Coast Premiere.