Dubai film writer tries to break down the borders
DUBAI // An American, an Arab, and an Israeli are trapped in a secret communications base on the Israel-Lebanon border for six hours.
So runs the plot of a film by Ziggy Darwish, a Dubai fitness coach who has just completed production of Bordering on Bad Behaviour, starring Tom Sizemore. The film is due for limited release in January.
The plot tells of how Baz, an Australian-Lebanese soldier, accidentally walks into a secret Israeli communications base on the border of Israel and Lebanon.
He accidentally activates a time lock, which traps the three soldiers in the base for the next six hours, forcing them to talk to each other.
“The message of the movie is, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’” said Mr Darwish.
“This movie shows that with enough dialogue everyone can find common ground to build on. If you sit down and talk about stuff you can sort it out.
“I wanted to tell a fair story. I was sick of the way Arabs were being depicted in the media after 9/11. I wanted to show the world that Arabs are not terrorists.
“So I want to tell a story with varied perspectives; not all Jews are right, and not all Arabs are right. I also wanted to have a movie that is positive for Arabs all over the world.”
Inspired by the 2009 movie Lebanon by writer-director Samuel Maoz, Mr Darwish, an Arab-Australian, wrote the first draft of his script in just one month. The movie was shot in South Africa in only four weeks.
“I started writing and I just couldn’t stop,” he said. “I put all my experiences in that script. I had so much on my chest to get out.
“I found it was the easiest thing I’ve done in my life, to write the script. I had to rewrite it a number of times, but each time I felt it got much better.”
Mr Darwish said he had been ecstatic to get Hollywood actor Sizemore to play Bob, the CIA agent. “Tom was an absolute legend. He was great to work with, and such a professional.”
Israeli actor Oz Zehavi, who on Monday picked up the Best Supporting Actor award at the International Indie Gathering 2014 in Hudson, Ohio, plays the part of Ari, an Israeli special forces soldier.
Bernard Curry is cast as Baz. The film won Best Feature Length Comedy and the Viewer’s Choice Award.
Mr Darwish is a qualified personal trainer and has been a fitness professional since 2004.
After serving in the Royal Australian Navy for six years, he went on to train with some of the country’s best sports scientists. He then relocated to Dubai where he co-founded Fitness O2, his personal training and fitness company, in February 2007.
“With everything happening in Gaza, now is the right time for this movie to come out,” said Mr Darwish. “I’m proud to be an Arab, and I don’t want to be judged based on stereotypes of my ethnicity. If they get to know us they will like us.
“And that was true when I was in the navy. People had preconceived impressions of me, but soon they got to know me and we became friends. The navy is like a family to me now.
“We need to try to break down barriers, one human being at a time. I don’t believe that the governments of the world will solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I think it is the people who will solve it.”
Mr Darwish has another four scripts on which he is working. The success of Bordering on Bad Behaviour will determine if the other scripts will see the light of day.
“I’m searching for a distributor in the region. We have one for South Africa and America, but I really want to see the movie played in the UAE.”
Updated: August 19, 2014 04:00 AM