Though born and raised in Haifa, Israel, filmmaker Amos Gitai (“Kadosh,” “Rabin: The Last Day”) had never heard of Fattoush, a popular restaurant-cum-club located in the port city.
“I discovered this club through one of the actresses from one of my previous films. She basically said, ‘Why don’t I take you on a tour of the nightlife in your own town, which you don’t know,’” says Gitai.
That tour, and Fattoush, forms the focal point of “Laila in Haifa,” Gitai’s latest drama, which follows 18 characters from all walks of life as they converge for one night at the Haifa club. The film, which debuted Tuesday in competition at the Venice Film Festival, features a diverse cast of Palestinian and Israeli actors, including Bahira Ablassi, Tom Baum, Tsahi Halevi, Makram Khoury and Amir Khoury.