Laila's Birthday

72 minutes

The absurdities of contemporary Palestinian life animate this small but accomplished film by Rashid Mashawari (Ticket to Jerusalem). An out-of-work judge (Mohammed Bakri) provides for his family by driving a cab, and on the day he's due home for his daughter's birthday celebration, his patience and ingenuity are tested by a series of eccentric riders. From the man who doesn't understand why rifles aren't allowed in the taxi to the lady who jumps out to stand in a line simply because it's there, the various customers illustrate how public civility frays under the stress of occupation. Saleh Bakri (The Band's Visit), the star's son, has a cameo as one of the riders. In Arabic with subtitles.

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