Movie Review: The Band’s Visit (2007)

Title: The Band’s Visit
Release Date: 13 September 2007
Director: Eran Kolirin
Production Company: Sophie Dulac Distribution | Sony Pictures Classics

A police band from Alexandria, Egypt travels to Israel to perform at the dedication of an Arab cultural center.  The only problem is that they mistakenly go to the wrong place, an isolated village in the Negev Desert.  The owner of a cafe, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), offers hospitality to the band members and finds places for them to spend the night. The better part of the film is the fish-out-of-water stories of the Egyptian band members interacting with the locals on their one night in the boondocks of Israel.

The main story focuses on the band’s stoic leader Tawfiq Zacharya (Sasson Gabai) spending a platonic night on the town with Dina, albeit with some unspoken longings.  In a parallel story, Khaled (Saleh Bakri), a handsome, young and flirty member of the band who spends the night at a roller rink with some of the locals and helps a shy young man, Papi (Shlomi Avraham), make romantic overtures to his date.

This movie doesn’t solve the Arab-Israeli conflict but it’s a sweet and bathetic story of everyday people finding their commonality.  There’s also some excellent camera work that captures the isolation of the desert landscapes and and movement of characters in and out of scenes.

Rating: ***1/2