Friday, March 8, 2013


A small Egyptian police band, lead by a stern but likeable conductor with a dark secret, arrives in Israel to play a concert for an Arab Culture center and gets lost in the shuffle, landing in a quiet desert town by accident. Craziness ensues, right? No, in fact, what happens in Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit (2007) is a heartwarming and lightly comedic look at the interplay of culturally different people with common human problems. This is a wonderful little film. Sasson Gabai (an Iraqi-born actor) is absolutely wonderful as Tawfiq Zacharya (often called The General), leader of the group and determined to preserve the finances, dignity, and tradition of his band. The darkly beautiful Ronit Elkabetz is Dina, a lonely yet vibrant restaurant worker in the almost deserted town who takes the lost musicians under her wing. She is kind of the whore with the heart of gold. Saleh Bakri is the youngest and newest member of the band, and the cad. There are several other smaller parts, all well played, each contributing small bits to the overall picture. The pacing is wonderful and the director does not try to force comedy by creating farcical mischief. The interplay is often melancholy, as the characters often glimpse the personal side of their counterparts, and the commentary is done with a light hand, as when one band member sitting in a cafe covers a photograph celebrating some Israel defeat of their Egyptian foes. To me the film spoke to the commonality of people, that our differences do not mean connections cannot be forged, kindnesses offered and accepted.

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