I was born in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur 1963 as Zadok Salah Dror Darwish. My parents were born in Baghdad, Iraq, from which they have fled in the 1950’s. When my father was 17, he was imprisoned for 5 years in Iraq, charged for being "Zionist." After his release he changed his Arabic last name Darwish ("wanderer"), to the Hebrew name Dror ("Freedom"). His story is the subject of my diary film My Fantasia (2000), which takes place in the family owned Menorah factory in Tel Aviv, during the Gulf war.
I studied theater and classical studies in UCLA and graduated Colombia Collage film school in Chicago. My graduate film, Sentenced to Learn (1993), which tells the story of life-time inmates in Illinois prisons, was selected to screen in a historical retrospective of American Documentary at the Pompidou Center in Paris, alongside with films such as "Route 1, USA", "Sherman's March" and "Salesman".
With the Oslo Agreement of 1993 between Israelis and Palestinians, I was drawn back home in a time of change. In "Peace Chronicles" (1994) I was responsible (as a researcher and field director) for documenting the first year after the Oslo Agreement, by following Palestinians and Israelis in their hopes and fears.
In 1996 I made Radio Daze – the peculiar life of a radio-quiz-show-star, whom for me, was a reverse-metaphor for what I viewed as the “consumer-crazed” Israeli society. In Café Noah (1996), and Taqasim (1999), I exposed the work of musicians from Iraq and Egypt, who immigrated to Israel during the 50’s and never got any recognition for their art. In 1998 I collaborated with Rashid Mashrawi on the first Israeli-Palestinian co-production “Stress” - an impressionist documentary in two parts about the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. That same year I also completed Red Vibes (1998), which followed a group of young artists who immigrated to Israel from Russia and were spreading a subversive neo-communist ideology.
A moment before the dream of peace turned into an outbreak of violence, I filmed Raging Dove (2002), a film which tells the story of Johar Abu Lashin, a world boxing champion who dreams of bringing peace through the boxing ring. The film won many awards and distributed world wide. A year later I initiated and produced Paradise Lost (2003) a debut film by Ibtisam Mara’ana , about a "bad girl" in her Palestinian village Fureidis. I have produced 3 other films for first time directors: Mr. Cortisone Happy Days (2004), was a collaboration with Shlomi Shir, who documented the process of coping and eventually dying from cancer. The film was a winner of the ”Audience Award” at EBS Seoul Documentary film festival and “Ghandi Award” at Documenta Madrid. Collaborators (2004) a film about 2 Palestinian collaborators, who live on the rough side of Tel Aviv, and A General's Story (2005) about a peculiar man who suffers from combat fatigue.
The Journey of Vaan Nguyen (2005) was my next film as a director. It tells the story of Vietnamese refugees who arrived by boats to Israel in the late 70’s. These ‘boat people’ built a temporary home for themselves in Israel and now when they want to return to Vietnam, their children face an identity conflict. This film opened the EBS Seoul Documentary Film Festival and the Asian American Film Festival.
Side Walk (2007) was for me an interesting experiment. In this completely observational film I followed school children on their daily way to school and back home and composed it as one single journey (premiered at: Docs Barcelona and Docaviv). In Across The River (2009), I followed an Ethiopian born HIV activist back to his village in Ethiopia to tell a moving story full of self revelations.
In 2010 and through 2011, American Public Television with more than 50% of PBS stations nationwide, has aired a series with 3 of my films: My Fantasia, Raging Dove and The Journey of Vaan Nguyen.
Mendelsohn's Incessant Visions (2011) is somewhat different from my previous films – it is a historic film based on letter exchange between master modern architect Erich Mendelsohn and his wife, Louise. I would describe it as a "hybrid film", mixing different cinematic tools from different genres. The film won numerous international awards and was distributed theatrically. I co-created and edited Photonovela (2013), a film diary about a girl who must draw a family-tree as a Bat Mitzva assignment and finds a past full of mysteries and surprises.
Currently, I am editing 2 new films: Revolution Girls (expected release mid 2014) Anat and Rola are not interested in politics, they want to do business, yet another wave of violence, between Israelis and Palestinians, is threatening to destroy their partnership and dreams. Shadow in Baghdad (release end of 2013) Linda Abdul Aziz is searching the whereabouts of her father, who disappeared, like tens of thousands Iraqis, during the reign of Saddam Hussein.