Hany Abu-Assad
Netherlands 2002 | 80 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU

The white Ford vans dri­ving around all over Pales­tine once belonged to the Israeli army. After the Oslo Agree­ments, they were given to former Pales­tin­ian col­lab­o­ra­tors as a source of income. Soon, they were sold and employed as taxis. Today, thou­sands of these vans drive around, which makes the market fairly sat­u­rat­ed. Direc­tor Hany Abu-Assad accom­pa­nies cab driver Rajai and his pas­sen­gers in Ramal­lah and Jerusalem, along road­blocks and short cuts. The pas­sen­gers make up a het­ero­ge­neous com­pa­ny with diver­gent opin­ions about the sit­u­a­tion in Pales­tine and views of the con­flict with Israel. Apart from ordi­nary people, local celebri­ties such as politi­cian Hanan Ashrawi and film­mak­er B.Z. Gold­berg ride Rajai’s van. 

With the bus pas­sen­gers, the whole film mean­ders along some of the deter­min­ing ele­ments of Rajai’s life, so we not only gain insight of this young man’s char­ac­ter and back­ground, but also of the com­plex sit­u­a­tion in the region. For exam­ple, we hear about Rajai’s family, his side­lines such as smug­gling ille­gal CDs, his view of the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion and (im)possible solu­tions for it, his dream of a future abroad, and his fas­ci­na­tion with and even appre­ci­a­tion of the per­pe­tra­tors of sui­cide attacks. But above all, his frus­tra­tion with his life as a taxi driver emerges. Like every­where, this mainly con­sists of find­ing cus­tomers before they choose to take anoth­er taxi.