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Driving to Zigzigland

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."

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.

Driving to Zigzigland

  • Production: A BintFilm, Cinema Libre Studio production. Produced by Philippe Diaz. Executive producers, Anas Khalaf, Rosario Ballivian. Co-producers, Chris Cory, Najwa Mubarki. Directed, written by Nicole Ballivian.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DigiBeta), Tarin Maja Anderson, Mounes Abu Shilbayeh; editors, Michael Adelmann, Charles Ryan; music, Marcel Khalife, Raed Saeed, Sidi Yassir, Euphrates; costume designer, Lindsey Nelson; associate producers, Samira Shapuri, Jaime Ballivian, Manny Mencia, Cecilia Mencia. Reviewed at Cairo Film Festival (Digital Competition), Dec. 6, 2006. (Also in Dubai Film Festival -- Arabian Nights.) Running time: 92 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Bashar Da'as, Hussam Abu Eisheh, George Ibrahim, Amber Kendrella, Stephen Caldwell, Raul Rodriguez, Everette Motta, Rima Laham, Sherwin Buydens, Sufyan Omeish, Zak El Yazgi, Pawlos Girmay, Nicole Ballivian. (English, Arabic dialogue)
  • Music By: