A band comprised of members of the Egyptian police force head to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center, only to find themselves lost in the wrong town.A band comprised of members of the Egyptian police force head to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center, only to find themselves lost in the wrong town.A band comprised of members of the Egyptian police force head to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center, only to find themselves lost in the wrong town.
Eran Kolirin's A Band's Visit is the story of the small connections that bring people together. Israeli's submission as Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (rejected because much of its dialog is in English), it is about what some of us have lost in modern society the ability to reach across cultural, political, and language barriers to connect with fellow human beings. Over the course of the evening, the Israelis and the Egyptians approach each other tentatively and little by little, the staid Egyptians open up to their Israeli hosts, finding some common ground exemplified in a spontaneous dinner table rendition of George Gershwin's "Summertime".
When the two groups begin to get to know each other, they find that beneath the language and cultural differences, they are simply people - full of joy and sadness, friendship and loneliness, connection and loss. Tewfiq (Sasson Gabal), the conductor of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, is formal and rigid in his demeanor but is able to strike up a friendship with Dina (Ronit Elkabetz). After some awkward silences, the melancholy conductor reveals details of tragic losses in his family and how he feels that he is to blame. Another band member, Khaled (Saleh Bakri) decides to accompany local Papi (Shlomi Avraham) and his date to a roller skating rink. In a memorable scene, Khaled offers the socially backward Papi some instructions on courting his shy girl friend.
In another moving sequence, band member Simon (Kalifa Natour) plays a lovely but unfinished composition for the clarinet for Itzik (Rubi Moscovich) who tells him that he should end the piece, not with a traditional showy display but with what is there for him at the moment, "not sad, not happy, a small room, a lamp, a bed, a child sleeping, and tons of loneliness." A Band's Visit is a film about Israeli's and Arabs but without the usual backdrop of boundary disputes, the peace process, or the religious divide, even avoiding the clichés about how music is a universal language. It is a small film but wise in its understated depiction of humanity's common bonds, slow-paced but held together with a sensitive charm.
- Feb 24, 2008