SMC Student Stars in 'David and Fatima'
Joining Dustin Hoffman and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the silver screen, Santa Monica College student Danielle Pollack joined the ranks of students who have starred in movies. Pollackslipped away from her studies to attend the premier of "David and Fatima" in Beverly Hills on Friday, Sept. 12.Pollack played a Palestinian girl in "David and Fatima" who falls in love with a Jewish boy in contemporary Israel. Forbidden love reflects Israeli reality in this story steeped with historical and political drama.
Alain Zaloum, the film's screenwriter and director, had the difficult task of portraying catalytic events that shape hatred in individuals. The second sequence cuts between David and Fatima's parents indoctrinating them with Biblical reasons to mistrust the other race.
"Jews are very selfish and they hate Arabs," Fatima's mother says during bedtime. Granted, explaining 2,000 years of prejudice is hard in three minutes, but the blatant messages throughout the film were somewhat comedic at times.
"You can't predict someone's response," Pollack said. "It's exaggerated to stress a point." The challenge of depicting people so "out of touch with being human," is that it can go over the top quite easily.
In the opening scene, David and Fatima's parents are both driving to their respective hospitals to give birth when they stop each other in a one-way alley. Stubbornness ensues as the fathers argue while mothers plead with their husbands from inside their cars to give up and move. Fatima's father asks, "Don't all Jewish boys listen to their mothers?"
These clichés distract the audience from the gripping love story that shows the audience we're all human despite our political differences. That aside, "David and Fatima" flows very nicely and entices the audience into a trance of empathy for the young lovers.
The movie portrays maintaining love despite parents and politics with striking realism. "Love is a very powerful emotion. It can bring two individuals together," said Rabbi Schmulic, played by Martin Landau. "But it's hatred that unites a people."
Telling this complex story with $1 million wasn't easy. "The movie has a lot of bang for the buck," said Allan Coleman, who plays David's father. The movie's relevant themes attracted talent way out of the movies price range. Landau, Richard Francis-Bruce the "Shawshank Redemption's" editor and the orchestra that played in the latest Indiana Jones weren't attracted by the money, according to Pollack. "They joined for the love of the art, story and meaning," Pollack said. Pollack, the leading actress was paid only $4,000.
Currently, Pollack is back at SMC working towards her associate degree. "I love reading and knowledge but it makes me depressed being back at school," she said. "The primer made me feel like I was Cinderella." She said that the feeling from acting on a professional set was surreal. "It was like a magic crystal ball of fantasy," Pollack said. At the same time academics are very important. Knowledge is a tool that is used to expand an actor's palate, Pollack said.
Pollack grew up in New York City and attended La Guardia High School of Music and Art. "[She's] not a new actress," Cameron Van Hoy, the actor who played David said. "She has a lot of training."
Pollack came to Los Angeles after graduating to pursue an acting career and higher education. "I came out for acting and school," Pollack said. "But if any opportunities [come] my way I'd leave [school]." Pollack took a hiatus from SMC during the spring 2007 semester while shooting "David and Fatima."
Keeping her options open for ideal roles later means shying away from immediate work. After playing a Palestinian girl in "David and Fatima," Pollack said she is worried of being type casted as a "Muslim woman." Pollack has turned down parts in the television shows "CSI" and "24" for this very reason.
Pollack, who is Jewish, thinks stereotyping herself is detrimental to her career. She said she doesn't want directors to exclusively think, "Oh she's Muslim; oh she's Middle Eastern."
After receiving her associate's degree, Pollack wants to attend the prestigious Actors Studio in Los Angeles. Getting in will still be challenging even though her co-star Landau runs the school, Pollack said.
From there, she wants to star in moving love stories. "Creating the most beautiful love stories," is personally very important, Pollack said. "I'm deeply, deeply, in love with love."