Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (The Band’s Visit) (2007)
Written and directed by Eran Kolirin
Arabic, English, and Hebrew with English subtitles
The premise is simple: the members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Orchestra, a police band, travel from Egypt to Israel to perform at the opening of an Arab arts center and end up in the wrong place, a small desert town. With no hotel and no bus out, they turn to an Israeli restaurant proprietor and her friends for help. The Band’s Visit is a beautifully made film — not a feel-good film, but a feel-okay, maybe, sort-of film, with orchestra members and locals awkwardly bridging a cultural divide. It’s the best film about hospitality I’ve seen. Perhaps the finest moment: Egyptians and Israelis meeting on the common ground of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
[Tawfiq Zacharya (Sasson Gabai) explains to Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) what it feels like to conduct an orchestra.]
[At the roller-rink, Chet Baker-loving trumpeter Haled (Saleh Bakri) shows Papi (Shlomi Avraham) how to make a pass at Yula (Rinat Matatov).]
[Yula has responded. Now what?]
How did I find out about The Band’s Visit? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I did.
April 20, 2015: Ronit Elkabetz has died. The New York Times has an obituary.