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Bursting with mordant wit and alive with urgent real-life dramatic energy, Rashid Masharawi's Laila's Birthday is a "fleet, dark urban comedy," (New York Times) that "moves at a brisk clip, ticking incidents like a meter on overtime" (Time Out New York).
"At eight o'clock, it's Laila's birthday, okay?" Palestinian judge turned cab driver Abu Laila's wife reminds her husband. But on his young daughter's birthday, like any day, Abu faces a nerve-wracking shift in a Ramallah yellow cab armed only with an ex-jurist's misplaced pride, a father's loyalty, and a sticker reminding passengers that smoking and carrying AK-47's are prohibited. Rather than address politics or document holy war heroics and villainy, Laila's Birthday focuses on the toll that the unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict extracts from civilians clinging to both employment and a semblance of normal life amidst chaos and corruption, missile attacks and bursts of gunfire.
"Part Tati, part Chaplin, part absurdist satire," (Village Voice), Laila's Birthday finds surprising humor and remarkable humanity in the fares Abu plucks from the social freefall of a city upended by war, and in the unyielding and often misplaced belief in the rule of law to which its unlikely hero clings en route to a hoped-for family reunion.
2008 Palestine/Tunisia/Netherlands 71 min. Color
In Arabic with English subtitles Letterboxed (1.85:1)
a film by RASHID MASHARAWI LAILA'S BIRTHDAY
with MOHAMMED BAKRI AREEN OMARI NOUR ZOUBI
cinematography TAREK BEN ABDALLAH NESTOR SANZ
original music KAIES SELLAMI
production design ALA' ABU GHOUSH NESTOR SANZ
editing PASCALE CHAVANCE
sound ISSA QUMSYEH
executive producers WOUTER BARENDRECHT MICHAEL J. WERNER
produced by MOHAMED HABIB ATTIA PETER VAN VOGELPOEL RASHID MASHARAWI
written and directed by RASHID MASHARAWI
© 2008 Cinema Production Center, Cinétéléfilms, Sweetwater Pictures and
"A BRILLIANT FUSION of road movie, family drama, cinema of the absurd and sociological exposé." - Howard Feinstein, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
"BEGUILING... beautifully shot and overlaid with a spare, lyrical score that lends rueful emphasis to Masharawi's exasperated fidelity to a chronically malfunctioning city." - Ella Taylor, VILLAGE VOICE
"A fleet, dark urban comedy that registers outrage in glancing jabs of absurdist observtaion." - Stephen Holden, THE NEW YORK TIMES
London * Toronto * San Sebastian * Tokyo * Cairo * Abu Dhabi