Great News!!!

Waiting For Ishtar has been selected to screen at the 8th annual New Haven Documentary Film Festival. Wednesday, August 11 – Sunday, August 15th, 2021.

If you live in the northeastern US, you can order the film online, beginning on August 11. Here is a link to the NHdocs online film guide:


Waiting for “Waiting For Ishtar”

There have been a couple of recent posts asking what is happening with “Waiting For Ishtar”. Yes, the documentary is most definitely still in the works. Before updating you on where we are in the process, Jonathan and I would like to thank everyone who posted on this site. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of seeing “Ishtar”. We are still planning to use some of your comments in the documentary.

As for “Waiting For Ishtar”, we are nearing completion of a rough cut of the film, which we will be taking to some producers who have expressed an interest in helping us release the movie. I will update this site as soon as I have more information as to when & where the documentary will be available. Also, we are planning to put together a trailer that you will be able to link to from this site.

We know that it has taken some time to put this thing together, but shooting on location in North Africa was very difficult, and then there was the constant bickering on set, and…wait, that wasn’t our movie. Jonathan and I are very excited about the documentary. We have invested a great deal of time and care, because we wanted to get it right. To everyone who has offered support and interest in “Waiting For Ishtar”, thank you, and please be patient with us.

What did you think of “Ishtar”?

Roger Ebert called it “A truly dreadful film”, Janet Maslin (NY times) called it “genuinely inspired”, while Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) referred to it as “The most underestimated commercial movie of 1987”.

What did you think of “Ishtar”? Leave your comments here. Who knows? We might just use them in our movie.


If you (or someone you know) have borrowed or are waiting to borrow the much-maligned 1987 film “Ishtar” from the Toronto Public Library (within the past 2 years), I want to interview you. Your interview will appear alongside original “Ishtar” cast members, film critics, Tony Award winning songwriters, and Canadian celebrities, like filmmaker Don McKellar. You can contact me by leaving your email address here, or you can email me directly at

Waiting For Ishtar

“Waiting For Ishtar” is the name of a documentary feature currently in production from first-time filmmakers John Mitchell and Jonathan Crombie. The “Isthar” in the title refers to writer/director Elaine May’s much-maligned 1987 comedy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty.


The night of his 39th birthday, Toronto comedy writer/performer and unabashed “Ishtar” fan, John Mitchell was challenged by a newspaper editor to write an article proclaiming and explaining his love for the movie. With a genuine and pathetic sense of glee, Mitchell began his assignment by taking a trip to the public library to put a hold on “Ishtar”. Returning two weeks later to find out why the movie had not arrived, Mitchell was surprised to discover that he was #34 on a list of #47 library members all waiting to borrow “Ishtar”. Realizing that it would take eight and a half months to get his copy, Mitchell began to wonder who else would be willing to wait that long (and longer) to see what critic Roger Ebert called: “A truly dreadful film”. The article quickly turned into the idea for a documentary, to find and interview the 46 other Toronto Public Library members “Waiting For Ishtar”.

Waiting For Ishtar:

What began as a small, home-made movie has grown in scale. This concept has grabbed the attention of writer/director, Elaine May, and former head of production for Columbia Pictures, Julian Schlossberg. Original “Ishtar” cast members, Charles Grodin and Carol Kane have already been interviewed, and later it is planned that others from the original production will be participating. Filmmakers, Mitchell and Crombie have shot over 40 hours of footage and conducted interviews with dozens of subjects: film critics, songwriters, Ishtar fans, writers and directors, including well-known Canadian filmmaker, Don McKellar.

“Waiting For Ishtar” follows John Mitchell as he tries to negotiate his way through the puzzling bureaucracy of a privacy-obsessed public library system, while simaltaneously examining the fate of “The most underestimated commercial movie of 1987” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Part detective search, part impossible quest, “Waiting For Ishtar” takes a humourous look at a struggling musical comedy writer’s obsession with a movie about two struggling songwriters.