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On an ordinary day, the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel from Egypt for a cultural event, only find there is no delegation to meet them, nor any arrangements to get to their destination of Petah Tiqva. When they find their own ride, they arrive instead at the remote town of Beit Hatikva. Stuck there until the next morning's bus, the band, lead by the repressed Tawfiq Zacharaya, gets help from the worldly lunch owner, Dina, who offers to put them up for the night. As the band settles in as best it can, each of the members attempts to get along with the natives in their own way. What follows is a special night of quiet happenings and confessions as the band makes its own impact on the town and the town on them. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The movie was selected to be Israel's Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of The 80th Annual Academy Awards, but it was disqualified by AMPAS because more than 50% of the film's dialogue was found to be in English, as opposed to Arabic and Hebrew. After an unsuccessful appeal, Israel sent Beaufort instead. See more »
When Tewfiq tells Khaled they have a long day tomorrow in Dina's apartment, Tewfiq is shown putting his hand on Khaled's shoulder in the shot from behind Khaled, but in the shot from the front, Tewfiq is seen holding Khaled's upper arm. See more »
A fully uniformed Egyptian police band arrives in Israel to perform at the opening ceremony of a new Arab Cultural Center but no one shows up to meet them at the airport. Lonely and tired, they end up taking the wrong bus, ending up in Bet Hatikvah, a lonely outpost in the Negev that, according to one of its residents, not only doesn't have a cultural center but has no culture. Unable to get transportation until the next morning, the band agrees to stay overnight at a local restaurant run by Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), a free-spirited but lonely Israeli restaurateur who longs for companionship.
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.
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