Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (2007) Poster

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Band Visits, You'd Want Them to Stay
janos45124 January 2008
In an ocean of predictable movies, "The Band's Visit" is an island of bliss. When you see the advertising about the story of an Egyptian police band getting lost in Israel, you're likely to roll the film instantly in your mind - conflict, hatred, perhaps some awkward humor, and a forced bit or two of vague optimism about the future.

Forget all that, it's some other movie. This one is free and clear of anything set, routine, obvious, predictable. "The Band's Visit" is about people - mostly awkward, all real, well- and ill-behaved in turn - and not about agenda, ideology, politics. It's an unsentimental "people movie" (remember when Hollywood used to churn those out?), enormously likable, a treasurehouse of humanism.

"Visit" is also a film you have to work with. It's not dumped on the audience in its fullness by its writer and (first-time) director, Eran Kolirin. Action is slow or nonexistent, dialogue is halting, silences are rampant. And yet it all works so well: even if you have never heard Egyptian music, when the band finally plays (as the end-credits roll), you're guaranteed to groove on it.

Kolirin is a writer and director of great economy. The characters of and relationships between the eight band members - in their powder blue, Sgt. Pepper-wannabe, uniforms are revealed through a word here, an expression there, and pretty soon, you really know them... except that later you realize you didn't.

The head of the band, Tewfig, is an officious, prissy, downcast, silent figure, and yet as the camera stays on him a great deal of the time, slowly you are getting used to him, and when he finally puts together a couple of full sentences, you may feel acceptance and even appreciation.

It is at this point, far into the movie, that you understand why Dina is pursuing him. Dina is the attractive - if blowsy - owner of a small cafe in the Israeli desert town where the band is stranded. There is much, much more to "Visit," but just watching the Tewfig-Dina story, and reveling in the performances of the two actors, is well worth the price of admission.

The band leader is Sasson Gabal, and I must admit being incredulous finding out after seeing the movie that he is a famous Israeli actor. Not only does he appear authentically Egyptian, but when starts singing an Arabic song - oy! Dina is Ronit Elkabetz, an actor so fine that you'd never suspect her of being one; what you see on the screen is the character, totally believable.

"Visit" is a rare film, one that keeps running in your mind long after the band strikes up.
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an amusing, small detour on the highway of life
MisterWhiplash2 March 2008
The band, an group of eight Egyptians looking slightly stilted and uncomfortable but always professional, are dropped off at the Israeli airport, but there is no bus to drive them. They eventually get one, but it drops them off in the middle of nowhere. They walk to a local restaurant/dive that's about as empty as the rest of the small town - it's the wrong town, of course, as one letter was off in the name of the town of the band-mates inquired about. So it's time to stay overnight in this sleepy little desert town before things get straightened out to their destination.

With that simple premise, Eran Kolirin creates an atmosphere that seems like the awkward, piercingly funny but "low-key" (in other words not overly dramatic) characters in a Jarmusch film, and despite the 'small' nature of the story, that there isn't very much to go in its 80 minute running time, a lot can be explored through interaction. This is probably not a 'great' film, but it is a great example for those skeptical that an Israeli film has to have some political context or subtext or whatever. The only scene that has the hint of unease between Israel and Arab is an already warm, strange scene at a dinner table where an Israeli man recollects singing "Summertime" as everyone at the table joins in. There are looks exchanged here and there, but nothing to suggest unrest of the expected sort. This story could take place in just about anywhere.

By aiming things towards the little details of people relating on terms of friendly interaction, of the light dances of affection like between the boy who "hears the sea" and the "gloomy girl" at the skating rink (probably the single funniest scene without a word spoken, all movement), the first-time director creates a little play on people who live and/or work in a marginalized part of the world. That doesn't mean they're poor or ignorant, far from it. But it's a sweet view into people we otherwise wouldn't know much about (after all, who makes light, wise comedies on the misadventures of a police band from Egypt?) The performances are endearing, the music has the ring of not taking much too seriously, and melodrama is kept at a low (if not, in the underlying sense, melancholy). Only a few scenes (like the running story strand of the officer and the other guy waiting at the pay phone) fall sort of flat based on the tone already sent.
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You Speak. You Don't Speak
David Ferguson2 March 2008
Greetings again from the darkness. Stellar film from rising star, Israeli filmmaker Eran Kolirin. This film offers the beautifully delivered message that regardless of our culture, we all want to be connected to another person. Other than the language we speak, we really aren't so dissimilar.

The Egyptian Police Orchestra is stranded on their way to play at the opening of an Arab Culture Center. The language barrier causes them to be stuck in a one-horse town with a similar type name. What follows is a touching story and terrific film-making. So much is communicated with so few words.

There are three of four amazing scenes. My favorite is probably the funniest in the film. At the roller rink, one of the band members assists an awkward local with the proper technique in consoling a girl whose feelings he has hurt. It is funny and touching and moving and insightful all at once. The band leader's scenes with Dena, the beautiful and lonely restaurateur who takes the band in for the evening, are so emotional and sincere that I kept wanting to scream at them both! Just great stuff.

I look forward to more from Eran Kolirin and it is very sad that this film was disqualified in the Foreign Language category due to the determination that too much English was used. Still, it doesn't change the fact that this is a terrific movie and story.
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Small but wise
Howard Schumann24 February 2008
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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A touching film about what makes us similar as humans
guylevi6 October 2007
I liked this movie. As a viewer, I was subjected to a wide range of emotions during this film: joy, frustration, embarrassment, delight and so on.

One must understand that Israel and Egypt had been long time enemies (until the peace agreement in 1979) and that Israeli Jews and Arabs have very different views on so many matters. Within this context the humanity of the film really shines. People of such different backgrounds are basically the same; Same hopes and aspirations, same fears and frustrations etc. The same things make all of us tick.

This film is also about strangers and others. And how we can help one another. The scene with Haled and the Israeli boy and girl in the skating rink is, my opinion, classic.

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Really well done
jim stevens23 November 2007
A movie that should be getting lot more press.

Enjoyable and bit quirky to see the kinds of situations people get into, that are much like we may experience anywhere else in the world.

Others have laid out the plot well and nothing more needs to be said about how the story develops.

I found two scene in this movie the kind that one must remember, rather like the many one may recall from Bogart in Casablanca.

The exchange at the phone and the scenes at the skating rink are precious and very well acted.

This is a movie I recommend seeing and then putting into memory to come back and see again and again just for the pure pleasure of a well developed comedy.
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What a surprisingly fab movie
Rob Groves3 January 2008
As a dedicated husband of a BAFTA voting member, we trawl through 100+ DVD's at this time of year. The Hollywood movies all blur into muchness, but then this film comes along without any fancy marketing blurb, no fancy box, just a DVD in a plastic sleeve. We put it in and said we would give it 10 minutes, and spent the next 100 minutes or so spellbound and laughing our socks off! The acting was simply wonderful, the comic situations and timing were redolent of "The Office", and the political analogies were intriguing, The soundtrack was the best of any 2007 movie imho. It gets our nomination for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Soundtrack, with further nominations for the "Dina" and "Tewfiq" actors plus a vote for others in the band in the supporting actor category.

Try to see it if you can!
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The Band's Visit is pure magic
iandedobbeleer22 October 2007
Eran Kolirin is a name to watch out for. This film maker is simply brilliant. In the band's visit he tells a quite simple story, but not without pulling a trick here and there and believe me, he's not a one trick pony. Actor performances are subdued and very truthful making the movie a story of unpersued dreams that goes straight to the heart. It's warm melancholy mood never gets heavy or painful cause it's countered so wittily with scenes that make you smile from ear to ear. To top it all off there's well chosen music, honest photography and clever camera direction. The Band's visit tells of a classic mix-up, but without ever being cheap.
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The bearable lightness of being
ssg710 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In this surprising comedy, a blue costumed Egyptian Police orchestra gets misrouted in Israel on the way to play at the opening of an Arab cultural center in Petah Tikvah. They land in a tiny desert town, where Dina, an Israeli cafe owner, (played by a strikingly smoky voiced Ronet Elkabetz), disburses the eight musicians overnight among her bored regulars until tomorrow's bus comes. Of course, the conductor, Sasson Gabai, stays with her.

Not much of a plot really, but the intelligence and composition of the film makes what I've seen from Hollywood lately seem like kindergarten. Israeli Dina disemboweling a watermelon for her two Egyptian guests, a morose Egyptian-Israeli after dinner men's chorus of "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, romance at the Israeli roller-skate discotheque, two men talking by a sleeping child in the bedroom of a failing marriage -- each scene saved from treacle by the film maker's wit and pacing.

As stereotypes and the enmity of decades fall by the wayside, Egyptians and Israelis alike endure difficulties of communication, autonomy, leadership, relationship, and isolation. No moment is rushed. No character trivialized. No irony ignored. No soundtrack tells us what to feel.

Music and sounds in this film are source only. The band's music, arising as the credits roll, is glorious - the key, in fact, to something each of us, or them, so desperately needs: joy! The film is so well crafted my enjoyment of it was effortless. It seems an enormous amount of thought, care, and love went into "The Band's Visit". And this is precisely the message, told with enough humor to keep it fresh. Ordinary individuals encountering each other with honesty, respect, and the gifts of art, music and laughter -- how else to breach the gulf between these two, or any two, cultures.
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The Band Visit , Original Comedy
Samuel Cohen19 October 2007
Very Original and most enjoyable Comedy. The Band from Alexandrian Police comes to Israel and goes to Beit Tiqva instead of Petah Tiqva by mistake. Sasson Gabai and Ronit Elkabetz play an excellent comedy with a human touch. Beit Hatiqva is a far out town that has one bus a day in the desert. The Residents are originally from Arab Countries and Culture. High Unemployment and Boredem in this far out town. Sasson Gabai plays Tawfik the Band Leader. Sasson is not Egyptian but manages to play the part including small gestures of Middle Class Egyptian Officers. The Rest of the cast are good too. All though the film is very funny there are hints to serious issues. In our fast paced emerging market Society, People are left behind. The Band is a good Old Fashioned Band. Beit Hatiqva is a forgotten town like many in Israel. Most of the movie is in Arabic and English and little Hebrew. Go and see this Human Comedy.
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An enjoyable film
RKBlumenau26 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
An Egyptian Police Band has been engaged to perform at an Arab Cultural Centre in Petah Tikvah. They descend from their bus, resplendent in their blue uniforms and rather stiff and ill at ease to be in Israel. It turns out that their bus has deposited them just outside Beith Ha-Tikvah, in the middle of nowhere, and there is no one to receive them. Beith Ha-Tikvah not only has no Cultural Arab Centre, but according to Dina (a young Israeli woman stuck there) not much culture of any kind, nor, for that matter, a hotel where they can stay until the next bus out on the following day. Dina arranges for them to stay the night in various local homes. The Egyptians are (with the exception of one member of the band) embarrassed and painfully polite, and the rest of the film shows mainly how Dina (mainly) tries and eventually succeeds in getting them, and especially their captain to relax a little. I think the film, getting a lot of laughs out of pointing up the contrast between the relaxed Israelis and the constrained Egyptians, is rather patronizing towards the Egyptians - one can just imagine how an Israeli film maker would portray an Israeli band if the roles were reversed! - but, other than that, the heart of the film is in the right place, aiming to show their common humanity and their common suffering (and the suffering of the Egyptian captain and the Israeli girl have NOT been caused by politics or war, but have to do with their private lives.) And, as a contrast to the embarrassed Egyptians, there is also a young inhibited Israeli boy who has to be taught by the one relaxed Egyptian how to approach a girl. The film is amusing, sometimes touching, sometimes a little sentimental. The performances of Ronit Elkabetz as Dina and Sasson Gabbai as the Egyptian captain are superb.
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The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra goes on tour
jotix10029 March 2008
We know there is going to be trouble for the arriving members of the Egyptian orchestra, when they are not met at the airport. To make matters worse, they pile into a bus that takes them to a place, so isolated, that for all practical purposes they have gone to another planet. The Israeli town is in the Negev and has little life on its own.

The orchestra's leader, the proper Tawfiq, goes to get help when they get off the bus. The only thing in sight is Dina's cafe, where nothing seems to happen. Dina, who is skeptical at first, realizes the plight of these men, stranded until the next day in that isolated spot with practically no money, decides to feed them soup and bread. Dina, who is a lonely woman who has seen better days, decides to take Tawfiq and Haled to her own home and bullies two men that hang out in her cafe to take the others to their relatives.

Dina, after taking the men to her own small apartment, decides to take the men out to a small eatery. As she gets to know them, she begins to develop a fondness for the older musician, who also feels the attraction, but he is too polite to do anything about it. Following the night in the small town we watch as the band walks out in formation to where they will be picked up.

Eran Kolinn, the writer and director of "Tbe Band's Visit", created an intimate portrait of lonely people coming together because of circumstances beyond their control. There is also an undercurrent message about how bitter enemies can come together when they really know each other. Talking seems to dispel old fears since we all are the same no matter where.

The film is enhanced by the quiet dignity of Sasson Gabai, who plays the band's director. He plays Tawfiq with such flair that he wins us from the start. Ronit Elkabetz is seen as Dina, the woman of a certain age, now stuck in that forsaken place. She lives a lonely existence in that forsaken place that she is grateful for the distraction of the stranded musicians and sees a possibility of some bliss even if it's short-lived.

Eran Kolinn is a talent that will go to bigger and better things because he shows he can do it, judging from his work in this winning film.
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Brilliant use of language, gorgeous film
kathleen-pangan28 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Band's Visit has to be one of the most awesome movies I've seen this year. We start with the Alexandria Ceremonial Orchestra, which is pretty much a police orchestra. The Egyptian band is traveling to a town in Israel to celebrate the opening of an Arabic cultural center. Instead, however, they end up in the wrong town and there is no bus out of this desolate, culture-dead ghost town until the next day. So we follow the band for the day and see who they really are. There is the serious loner of a director, his number one follower who would like to conduct but is never allowed to and who wanted to write a concerto on his clarinet but never finished, and the playboy who is always hitting on the girls. And yet, they all have more to them and this is the interesting journey of discovery on which we are set.

This film is beautiful and absolutely astoundingly perfect in so many ways. Most obvious is the play on the play on language. Most of the Egyptian band members speak in Arabic, though some speak in broken or highly accented English, which becomes the only way of communicating with the Israelis. A restaurant owner in the forlorn Israeli town offers the band members lodging and convinces her regulars to offer them lodging as well. So the band gets split up, and from there we learn more about each person as well as the people who they are staying with, and their lives. There are awkward scenes and it seems there is not too much to say at times. But the dialogue is so perfect, maybe because everyone must carefully choose their words in order to communicate in the common English language. At the same time, there is the idea of listening to a foreign language and hearing music and understanding the meaning by sound, by a different kind of knowledge than fluency.

One of the more poignant parts of the film is when one of the Israeli restaurant regulars talks to the follower Egyptian orchestra guy who never finished his clarinet concerto. We stare at the happy wedding picture of the regular guy with his wife after a dinner that showed that their marriage is not a happy one. Additionally, it's the baby's room, and the baby is in front of the two men and there are toys everywhere. The two men awkwardly sit together in front of the crib, and then the Israeli guy tells the Egyptian clarinet player, "You know, maybe this I how your concerto ends. I mean… not a big end with trumpets and violins, maybe this is the finish. Just like that, suddenly. Not sad, not happy. Just, ah, a small room, a lamp, a bed, child sleeps, and… (pauses, gestures with hands, laughs out of embarrassment for taking long to think of the words) tons of loneliness." Later, we are with the director and the playboy. The director had just had a rather distant one-on-one time with the restaurant owner lady, and now the three of them are back at her flat. The playboy takes out his instrument. A lone trumpet plays. The director and the lady stare off. There are so many picturesque, just gorgeous and lovely scenes in this film. It is filled with the sorrowful knowledge of how life is and what you know will come by experience.

Finally, after the awkwardness, the silence and heartbreak, we see what this group can do. I sank back into my seat, now intimately familiar with every member of the orchestra, and see them come together and revel in the beauty of classical Arabic orchestral music. This film is simply gorgeous and delicious to watch, see and here. It is a breath-taking experience that makes you think, and one I highly recommend.
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Our view of their view of us
Nozz19 October 2007
With a strained formal demeanor and a face wrinkled with vulnerability, Sasson Gabai's bandleader is a direct descendant of Shaike Ophir's Policeman (Azulai) in the bittersweet Israeli movie of that name. This is not a bad ancestry to have, but for a character who is supposed to be Egyptian it's a little awkward. Today Egypt is a grumpy neighbor that has as little contact with Israel as possible, and Egyptians-- or anyone else-- could consider it presumptuous of us Israelis to bring out a movie about the reaction of an Egyptian orchestra to being stranded in Israel. Who are we to characterize them? But the movie was obviously made with an abundance of good will and the foreign press has been kind.

The Band's Visit was nominated Israel's candidate for the Foreign Film Oscar, but it had to be withdrawn because not enough of the dialogue was non-English. (Perhaps the most unrealistic aspect of the film, other than a public telephone that inexplicably operates for free, was everybody's fluency in English.)
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The Band's Visit -Terms of endearment in Israel-An emotional and tangible Movie
Ajit Tiwari25 December 2011
Some people say to understand this movie, you must be aware of the cultural differences between Arab and Israel. That is not at all the point;it is an emotional journey of Human beings, which is similar across the Universe. It requires a perfect emotional quotient which bonds two people.

An Egyptian police band in a voyage to Israel to perform, nevertheless the language obstruction in a foreign country becomes a problem. They end up in a small desert city in Israel in a diner.

It depicts the cultural differences between two countries with subtlety and in contrast human bonding in the perfect node of emotions. It's a "slice of life" drama funny in parts, touching the emotional quotients with every sense of humanity.

The performances are top notch, Sasson Gabai looks real as a stiff man and head of the band. Ronit Elkabetz is fantastic as care-free and kind woman. Saleh Bakri is a nice choice as a young desirable man. Character development is at its finest and they look more palpable as the frames change.

87 Minute of the movie gives you a lot and it manages to enchant viewers with feel good vibes.

My Vote 8.5/10
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Excellent! The characters are quite real
rainyday123028 July 2011
What I got from this movie is that deep down, in the most basic ways we are all the same. I am a Westerner from Texas, but I identified with several of the characters. Yes, I'm a musician, but not for those reasons do I identify but more for the human condition parts. I also liked the starkness of the remote village. I find that romantic. It really did make me feel like I was there. It breaks my heart to think that Egypt and Israel may again become mortal enemies after just a couple of generations. Just when maybe things were getting better between these countries and their citizens. Neither music nor love can erase the evil that is hate.
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This Magnificent Gem Will Last Forever
Richard Virga27 July 2010
Understate, elegant. Reminds me in a way of You Can Count on Me in the sense that it is small, but oh so powerful. It is way beyond politics or even culture. It's about how such a small amount of quiet openings between people can create bridges spanning all gaps and differences. It's an elegant vehicle running an all cylinders: acting, direction, photography, and music, but not music all over the place, rather music placed, in just he right places. It's an unrushed film finding enormous beauty in the small spaces of a place in the middle of nowhere. It's about how little language is really needed by patient people ready to communicate the most important things. It's about persistence, tenderness, loss, loneliness. It's about people reaching out for no reason other than to bridge a distance. It's about the best parts of being a human being.
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Light as Gossamer
"The Band's Visit" is an extraordinary film in the midst of so much dreck. Extraordinary because its theme is so light as to be almost not there but the payoff in watching it and being slowly captivated by a travelling band of Egyptian police officers who get lost in the middle of Israel and form slow alliances with the people of small town. Israel is Eqypt's long time enemy and it has always been an uneasy peace since the eighties.

This film is about the interaction of people from completely different backgrounds. and no it is not about politics or religion or ideology. It's about how strangers not speaking the same language, but finding a means of communication in their second language English and going on to impact each other's lives forever.

Sublety is the key and it works incredibly well, gestures are small and meaningful, we get to know the entire band with the utmost economy of movement, expression and monosyllabic exchanges.

The main story line follows Tewfig, the leader of the band, stuffy with his own importance, quick to throw his weight around and his connection with Dina, the restaurant owner, a jaded, hyper has-been sexpot. They bare each other's souls through the course of the movie and it is an extraordinary thing to see. You can literally see Dina's tiny jerky movements slow right down as Tewfig teaches her how to conduct. There are many similar uplifting sub-plots involving other band members and townspeople.

And the payoff at the end!! Beautiful music!! "Visit" is one of those rare films, one that stays with one long after it is over, one that deserves watching again. And again. Restraint has never looked so good on film.

8 out of 10.
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Utterly delightful
artzau28 March 2009
The cast is relatively unknown. The movie is a sleeper that slips in with little fanfare. I mean, Israeli? Egyptian? C'mon. And then, you see it and BINGO. Wow. What a little film. So many little things add to its texture of enjoyment. The whole plot starts on a pun which is likely missed by most. Arabic has no "p" sound. So, Arabs often substitute a "b" sound. So, when the newly arrived Alexandria Police Orhestra is not met to be taken to their destination and the hard-nosed director, Col. Tawfiq sends young, good-looking Halid to get ticket information to get to Payed al Hatikva, which, of course, in his and Halid's speech comes out as "Bayed al Hatikva," the ticket girl, who's receiving Halid's attention gives them tickets to Beit al Hativa, an out-of-the-way settlement pretty much on the outskirts of nowhere. The band lands in a state of confusion which is shared by the residents of this outpost and the culture clashes begin. The opening of the Jewish residents' homes to their former enemies is met with some reservations on both sides. The contacts of the band with the locals plays out in an overnight stay with the rigid, traditional Tawfiq going out on a date with an outgoing, free-living Israeli restaurant owner, Dina. The randy Halid tags along on a date with 2 young Israelis and winds up helping one of the men to learn to relax and break the ice with an equally shy, awkward young woman. Assistant director, Simon stays with unemployed Papi and his family for the evening, eventually breaking the ice with music and the warmth of parenthood. Tawfiq gains insight into his own rigidity and personal tragic history. The band leaves the next day, having gained new friends and new insights and leaving these friends with their insights. Assistant band leader Simon has found the missing end to his overture; Tawfiq has lightened up emotionally; and Dina and Halid have smiles on their faces as the band waves goodbye to Beit al Hativa, The house of Hope.
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Sensitive, patient, compassionate and inherently funny
movedout4 April 2008
Famously disqualified as Israel's foreign-language entry to the 2008 Academy Awards for containing a surplus of English dialogue, "The Band's Visit" could have been a worthy winner. But the reason for its exclusion is as ironically fitting a reminder of any when the crux of the film exists in the void of communication and the yearning for common ground. This charming and utterly profound take on the Arab-Israeli divide is sensitive, patient, compassionate and inherently funny. Two pillars of immense performances hold up this remarkable film: stoic conductor Commander Tewfiq (Sasson Gabai) leads his eight-man Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra to the opening of the Arab Cultural Center in Israel where they get stranded in a desolate town with the mysterious Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), the owner of a small café who boards them for the night. Minor events turn into life-changing ones. Every frame in writer-director Eran Kolirin's soulful feature debut has a double entendre – an embedded moral code with social and romantic significance. Even with a residual feeling of suppressed conflict, everyone connects with each other on a human level, translating the quiet awkwardness into silent understanding to modestly point out our universal commonalities.
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Lost in the desert
Galina28 November 2008
The Band's Visit (2007) aka Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (2007), the directorial debut of Erin Kolirin, is the winner of three 2007 Cannes Festival's awards and 8 Awards of Israeli Academy of Film. Even though its subject, the relations between Jews and Arabs, is complex and controversial, the movie is gentle, sweet, hopeful, optimistic, a little sad, and well worth of seeing. The movie tells about the Egyptian policemen-musicians, the members of the Alexandria Police Ceremonial Orchestra and how they arrived to Israel one day to play at the opening of the Arab Cultural Center in Pet Hatikvah. Somehow, no one met them at the airport, and they took the bus that got them to the small town or rather village of Bet Hatikvah, in the middle of nowhere, or to be precise, somewhere in Negev desert. The musicians with their instruments wearing sky-blue uniforms stuck in Bet Hatikvah for the night because the right bus only comes once a day. How Egyptians and Jews communicate during that night, how they impact one another, what they learn about complete strangers and about themselves - makes the simple but very real and very hopeful story. The film is minimalistic, it does not use special effects or many words but it managed to tell us something important about these people by looking closely at their faces, observing their body language, sympathizing with them. You know, it is so good to see or a chance a movie with no villains, chases, guns, predictable situations, obligatory affairs, etc. It is really nice to be able to get drawn inside the movie, to feel like you've met good friends, not perfect or heroic, sometimes shy and awkward, but real and interesting to us. Two main characters as played by very good Israeli actors who are terrific in their riles and I'd love to see them getting international acclaim. Ronit Elkabeth is stunning - I could not take off my eyes off her face. Intense, passionate, sexy, three times winner of Israel Academy awards for acting, actress/director/writer, she is a national treasure. Sasson Gabai, who is apparently famous in Israel but not outside the country, was also outstanding as the repressed and shy leader of the band, Lieutenant-colonel Tawfiq Zacharya. With the running time only 87 minutes, The Band's Visit is one of the best and most memorable films from last year.
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All about loneliness, and even optimistic in a low-key way
Terrell-424 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This low-key, seemingly slow-moving Israeli movie offers a lot to those willing to sit still for a while. The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) is something of an uncomplicated, good- natured story, but scratch the surface of all those awkward people-getting-to-know people moments and there's a poignant look at loneliness.

The eight members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra have arrived in Israel from Egypt to play at the opening ceremony of an Arab cultural center. But they mix-up the name of the city, get on the wrong bus, and wind up in a small Israeli town that seems plunked in the middle of desolation...all wind and dust, with a huge apartment complex not far away. (The real town is Yeruham, population 9,000, in the Negev desert. I doubt if the place gets many tourists, or will after this movie.)

The band is led by Tawfiq Zacharya (Sasson Gabai), a serious, strict, middle-aged man who speaks halting English. When the bus that dropped them off departs, the eight men stand holding their instruments and looking uncomfortable in their powder blue uniforms. Tawfiq finally walks across the highway to a small café where two idlers sit watching him. He introduces himself to the proprietor, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), fortyish, confident, good-looking and so bored with her life that she sees these Egyptians as something of a challenge. They're in the wrong town, there's no hotel and there's no bus until the morning, so she feeds them and arranges for the band members to stay with some of the town's residents. She takes in Tawfiq and the band's young violinist and trumpet player, the tall and smooth Haled (Saleh Bakri). For the rest of the night we watch as coffee is sipped, dinners are eaten, awkward conversations take place (and some not so friendly ones) and liquor is sipped. Haled goes to a roller skating rink with two young Israeli guys and their dates and winds up showing the very inexperienced one how to comfort a weeping girl. Mostly, we get to know Dina and Tawfiq...Dina, with a careless life when she was younger, still something of a rebel against the conventions and boredom of the town; Tawfiq, reserved and dignified, who holds silently the knowledge of a terrible mistake he made before he was widowed. We're there as they share tentatively some personal history.

No, love doesn't blossom and we don't walk away thinking that if only people could get to know each other all the Israeli-Arab problems could be solved. We might be moved and entertained, in a gentle way, as some tentative friendliness arises, but more than anything we're touched by the loneliness, for different reasons, that Tawfiq and Dina carry around with them. Haled winds up helping each of them in very different ways, but without being aware of it. He's just a young guy who plays the violin and horn, loves Chet Baker, is something of a rebel and admires good-looking women.

When the bus comes by the next morning and the band prepares to board, we get the strong feeling that Dina and Tawfiq will remember their encounter, and might even be happier for it.
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Egyptian-Israeli relations
stensson6 January 2008
This little police orchestra from Egypt arrives in Israel and gets lost. They end up in the most boring village you've ever seen. On the surface. Soon different kinds of relations starts, between different kinds of people. We are all individuals.

This is not just a small-talk tale about the fruitful meeting between two cultures and two powers. It's also about loneliness and how people cope with it. There's the loneliness from being old, the loneliness from being sexually outspoken, the loneliness from being retarded when it comes to passion. It's both a very sad and hopeful movie.

Perhaps the main theme is music and the consolation which is possible from it.
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A Nutshell Review: The Band's Visit
DICK STEEL6 September 2008
The introductory inter-titles alluded this story as if it was a true, and that not many would remember it because it wasn't that important. I'd like to consider that The Band's Visit is however important to highlight and remind ourselves of simple human decency to help a fellow man in need. With little money, no understanding of the local language, and absolutely clueless as to the current location, I think not everyone can turn a blind eye, and not offer any assistance at all.

In The Band's Visit, the 8-member team from Egypt's Alexandria Police Ceremonial Band arrive in Israel to perform at the opening ceremony of a new Arab Cultural Center, only to find themselves stranded at the wrong town, a quiet one in fact, without support from the organizers or the embassy to get them back on track. "Gneral" Taqfiq (Sasson Gabai) and his men however get unexpected support from restaurant owner Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), an attractive middle aged lady who extends her hospitality to include an overnight stay at her restaurant, her home and her friends' homes, and a warm meal to boot.

So begins an uneasy alliance forged between the two cultures, one resigned to the fact that absolutely nothing happens in their town where this anomaly of an opportunity to become a Good Samaritan seemed bemusing, and somewhat an emotional / relationship wreck herself, sees a chance of a faintly probably getting together with a uniformed man. The other whose life is led by strict rules and regulation, responsible for the conduct of his men, reminding them to be ambassadors of their country, but as the story goes by, we see the man behind the uniform get revealed.

Don't expect big moments or slapstick comedy though, as this film is not. Most of the events that were remotely laughable, stemmed from the little episodes of a reaching out between humans, sans rivalry, loyalty and culture. While the movie doesn't showcase every individual in the 8 member team, significant time got devoted to Haled (Saleh Bakri), the default renegade character every group has, in his assistance to his host's plight of not being able to communicate with the girl that the latter likes, and Simon (Khalifa Natour), the second-in- command who is more of a conformer, being left questioned on his incomplete overture, whether he has the courage to pursue his dreams.

Writer-director Eran Kolirin's story takes place in a succinct 24 hours, split into three story arcs of first - Dina and Tawfiq in the revelation of each other's past while maintaining a hint of possible romance in the air, of second chances, second - Haled and his exploration of the town, with the unforgettable roller skate disco scene, and Simon which epitomizes uneasiness, which I feel most of us could identify with, being in disquieting comfort of a stranger's home, and having to deal with personal questions, not because the hosts were rude, but in attempts to try and break the ice by probing common topics to talk about.

Each of these stories had their respective touching moments, brought out vividly by the cast members, over a background soundtrack of excellently chosen tunes, from pop to classical music which we get treated to at the end. While the narrative may have unfolded within the short span of time in an overnight stay, parting was indeed sweet sorrow, and what came through was certainly something more memorable that will dwell with you, on the basic human decency of not judging a book by its cover, and that putting aside all differences and general presumptions, every individual has their own stories to tell, with challenges faced that could be no different from anyone else.
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A gem of a film
inchakra-cinema23 February 2016
I do not know how to thank for selecting and sending such rare gems our way. This is a beautifully restrained and elegant film full of life's frailties. The orchestra of life ends, as one character says, not with a flourish of trumpets but a quite, awkward note. The old and embittered Tewfik stands in such a wonderfully beautiful contrast to the young romantic lad with the earthy, passionate Dina standing between them, separating as well as connecting them to each other, as does the young guy too in his own way, who helps making bridges between other unhappy people. The editing is so smart that for a moment, I thought that they were playing the final orchestra only for Dina, by way of saying goodbye. She is absolutely unforgettable, the soul of the film. One wonders at the end if Dina is forever condemned to solitude in that desolate landscape that so powerfully brings out the characters' states of mind. Visually the film is marvelous - an empty chair between the young man and Dina make Tewfik's absence an eloquent presence where the only connection between two young people can only be ephemerally sexual devoid of Tewfik's casual observation - why does a man need a soul? The saxophone and glasses of wine only emphasize the meaninglessness of the accouterments of love in the absence of that deeply fulfilling experience. Too bad these films do not get seen. Such an emphatic assertion of a universal humanity in the face of Israeli-Arab hostility.
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