The circumscribed opportunities available to an aspiring Palestinian actor in Hollywood are coupled with Kafkaesque life in the Occupied Territories in Nicole Ballivian’s overly polemical debut “Driving to Zigzigland.” Starring Ballivian’s husband Bashar Da’as and largely based on his experiences driving a cab in Los Angeles, pic struggles to accrue sympathy for its often arrogant protag but is not helped by a weak script drowning in platitudes. With all the excellent docus and features recently produced in and about Palestine, programmers are unlikely to stop for this stalled vehicle.
Bashar (Da’as) gives up his stage job in Ramallah to pursue the Hollywood dream, but finds only terrorist roles are available to Arab men post-9/11. Rather than reinforce the typecast, he becomes a taxi driver, though he quickly tires of fielding sticky questions about Palestine and starts telling passengers he’s from Zigzigland. It’s ironic that a film attempting to show up ignorance should pander to so many tired stereotypes and prejudices (over-chipper, dim Japanese tourists, Hasidic Jews referred to as “penguins”). Bashar’s relationship with wife Nicole (Ballivian herself) is especially sketchy, while clumsy editing makes all but a scene at an Israeli checkpoint feel limp.