Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

The Band's Visit 2007

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret

Directed by Eran Kolirin

A lost Egyptian band spends the night in a small Israeli town in this charming comedy. "Marries goofy deadpan comedy with a conciliatory spirit... you'll weep with laughter." — LA Weekly

France / Israel / USA In Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles
86 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Shai Goldman


Arik Lahav Leibovitz


Habib Shehadeh Hanna


Sasson Gabai
Ronit Elkabetz
Saleh Bakri
Khalifa Natour
Imad Jabarin
Tarak Kopty
Hisham Khoury
Francois Khell


Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, Vancouver, London 2007; Rotterdam 2008


There's a hopeful heart beating under the immensely charming surface of The Band's Visit. The members of an Egyptian police band, all neat in their powder blue uniforms, turn up to perform in an Arab cultural festival in Israel. Unfortunately they take the wrong bus from the airport and end up in tiny Bet Hatikva, home, they are assured, to "no Arab culture, no Israeli culture, no culture at all". The people they meet in a bus stop café offer them hospitality. Communicating in English, some more successfully than others, Arab visitors and Israeli hosts dine, dance, share stories, laugh, confide, sigh and pass the night away. The principal characters are the crusty old band leader, his handsome young nemesis, and the beautiful proprietor of the café who puts them both up. Other characters are deftly rendered in a few strokes and the narrative style is pleasurably pictorial, drawing out carefully framed group tableaux to lovely deadpan effect. The performances are wonderful and you may well remember these strangers in the night with the lingering tenderness that they seem likely to carry for each other. — BG

"The night is long, the town is quiet, the band leader is prim, and Arab-Israeli distrust isn't erased overnight. But something marvelous happens as the filmmaker expertly metes out small scenes of communication between people taught, for generations, to be wary of one another." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"It has an elating lightness that belies its heavy subject - peace, or at least conversation, in the Middle East - and it leaves you filled with a sense of possibility." — Scott Foundas, Village Voice