Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Band's Visit.

I think we've missed the last bus?

My previous experience of Israeli cinema was the impressive Lemon Tree (2008), which told the story of the legal fight between a Palestinian widow, and the Israeli Defense Minister, who had moved next door to her family farm and was destroying her livelihood for the sake of his own security. I thought that it would be impossible for Israeli cinema to come up with something to compare with this intelligent and enjoyable movie, but thankfully I have been proved wrong. Director and screenwriter Eran Kolirin engaging debut film The Band's Visit (2007) is certainly as good. The film won eight awards at the Israeli Film Academy and a whole batch of prizes at several International Film Festivals. It was also Israel's original Foreign Language Film submission for the 80th Academy Awards but was rejected because it contained over 50% English dialogue which broke the rules under the American Academy which state that more than half of a films dialogue in a foreign film entry must be in the originating countries own language (the things you learn when writing a blog?)

Kolirins movie tells the heart-warming story of the fading Egyptian Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra whose eight members arrive in Israel to play at the Arab Cultural Centre. After a wee mix up they take the wrong bus and end up in the wrong town, a desolate windswept village in the middle of the Negev Desert. With no means of transport out of the village that day and with no hotels available they are forced to bunk down with the local townsfolk.
Dina and Tawfig.

This movie, which took four years to make, is a comedy with heart. It demonstrates how two so called enemies can come together and forget their differences but avoids sentimentality. Ronit Elkabetz, who plays Dina the owner of the small provincial restaurant where the band members dine, said to the director at the Israeli Film Awards "You remind us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye" If only that philosophy were followed, think of the bloodshed  you would avoid!!!  As well Elkabetz who plays the lonely Dina “who refuses to wilt in her desert town” the films other outstanding performance is from Sasson Gabai the Iraq born Jewish actor who one the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of the leader of the Egyptian Orchestra Tawfiq Zacharya an actor whose facial expressions can save a dozen words. Even American jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Bakers mellow Funny Valentine gets a plug. Well worth adding to your rental list along with Lemon Tree if you have not seen it.

No comments:

Post a Comment