Once, not long ago, a small Egyptian Police band arrived in Israel.
They came to play at an initiation ceremony but,
due to bureaucracy, bad luck, or for whatever reason,
they were left stranded at the airport.
They tried to manage on their own, only to find themselves
in a desolate, almost forgotten, small Israeli town,
somewhere in the heart of the desert.
A lost band in a lost town.
Not many people remember this.
It wasn't that important.
When I was a kid, my family and I used to watch Egyptian movies. This was a fairly common Israeli family practice, circa the early 1980's. In the late afternoon on Fridays, we'd watch with bated breaths the convoluted plots, the impossible loves and the heart-breaking pain of Omar Sharif, Pathen Hamama, I'del Imam, and the rest of that crew on the one and only TV channel that the country had. This was kind of weird, actually, for a country that spent half of its existence in a state of war with Egypt, and the other half in a sort of cold, correct peace with its neighbor to the south.
Sometimes, after the Arab movie, they'd broadcast a performance of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's orchestra. This was a classical Arab orchestra, made up almost entirely of Arab Jews from Iraq and Egypt. When you think of the IBA orchestra, maybe the custom of watching Egyptian movies ceremony sounds a little less odd.
The Arab movie has long since disappeared from our screens. TV became privatized, and has sunk out there among the five hundred fifty seven or who knows how many channels that have descended on us. And then the IBA orchestra was disbanded. We got MTV and BBC and RTL and "Israeli Idol" and pop songs and 30-second commercials. So who cares about quarter-tone songs that last half an hour any more?
Afterwards, Israel built the new airport, and they forgot to translate the road signs into Arabic. Among the thousands of shops they built there, they found no room for the strange, curling script that is the mother tongue of half of our population. It's easy to forget the things that H&M and Pull and Bear and Levi's etc. make us forget. Over time, we've forgotten ourselves too.
A lot of movies have been made touching on the question of why there is no peace, but it seems that fewer have been made about the question of why we need peace in the first place. The obvious is lost on us in the midst of conversations centering on economic advantages and interests. At the end of the day, my son and my neighbor's son will meet, I am sure of that, in some neon-blinking mall under a giant McDonald's sign. Maybe that's some kind of comfort,
I don't know. What's certain though is that we've lost something on the way. We traded true love for one-night stands, art for commerce, and the human connection, the magic of conversation for the question of how big a slice of the pie we can put our hands on.
ERAN KOLIRIN - Director and Script Writer
Born in 1973, Eran Kolirin's first work for cinema was the screenplay for the film "Zur - Hadassim" for which he won the "Lipper Prize" for best script at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, 1999.
In 2004, Eran Kolirin wrote and directed "The Long Journey", a film made for television.
The Band's Visit is Eran's first feature film.
Currently, Eran is writing his second feature film entitled "Pathways in the desert".
ABOUT THE ACTORS
SASSON GABAI (AS TEWFIQ)
One of Israel's leading and prolific actors. Sasson Gabai is a graduate of Tel Aviv University, Drama Dept. He has played in an enormous number of Israeli and international films, television series and theater plays. He has won numerous prizes and awards including among the rest : Landaw award for the performing arts; Best actor, The Israel Academy of theatre; Best actor for supporting role, The Israeli Academy of Cinema. Selected works for cinema : "Aviva My Love", "Rambo III", the Order", "Made in Israel", "Scar", "Les Patriots", "Tel Aviv Stories", "Cherry Season", "First Light", "Not Without My Daughter", "The Quarry", "War Zone".
RONIT ELKABETZ (AS DINA)
One of Israel's leading actresses. 2005 also saw Ronit Elkabetz direct her first feature film : "Prendre Femme" (the film opened in Venice IFF and won the critics and audience awards). She is currently in pre-production for her second feature film : "Shiv'ah". Elkabetz has played in an enormous number of Israeli and international films, television series and theater-plays in Israel and France. She won numerous prizes and awards including among the rest : Excellency award - Valencia IFF for her role in "Or (My Treasure)", Best Actress award - Sweden IFF for her role in "Prendre Femme", two Best Actress awards - Jerusalem IFF for her roles in "Prendre Femme" and "Or", Critics choice of the American Press for her role in "Late Marriage", Best Actress award - Buenos Aires IFF for her role in "Late Marriage", Best Actress Award - Saloniki IFF for her role in "Late Marriage" and two Israeli Film Academy awards for best actress for her roles in "Late Marriage" and "Sh'Chur". Selected works for cinema include : "Prendre Femme", "Or" (Camera D'Or - Cannes IFF); "Alila", "Origine Contrôlée", "Late Marriage", "Scar", "Sh'Chur", "Eddie King", "The appointed".
SALEH BAKRI (AS HALED)
One of Israel's emerging Palestinian actors, Saleh Bakri is a graduate of the "Beit Zvi" School for the performing arts. Bakri has appeared in several plays at Israel's most prestigious Theatres (Habima, Haifa Theatre, the Acco festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, etc.). "The Band's Visit" his is first acting role in a feature film.
KHALIFA NATOUR (AS SIMON)
Another of Israel's emerging Palestinian actors, writers and directors, Khalifa Natour is also a graduate of the "Beit Zvi" School for the performing arts. Natour has performed in numerous plays at Israel's and Palestine most prestigious Theatres (Habima, Beer Shiva Theatre, the Acco festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre, El-Kasba Theatre in East-Jerusalem and Ramalla; El-Hakawati Theatre; the Lab Theatre). Natour also played in Television films and series and in Palestinian feature films such as "Three Diamonds" and "Rana's Wedding".
July-August Productions (ISRAEL)
July-August Productions is a Tel Aviv, Israel based independent production company specializing in International co-productions, feature films and Television productions. Since its establishment, the company is considered to be one of the fastest-rising production companies in Israel. Over the past years, July-August produced number of feature films, several made for TV's films, television series, mini-series and Feature-length documentaries which include : "Love and Dance" (Feature-film, Berlin IFF, Moscow IFF, Rome IFF), "The Champagne Spy" (Feature-length Documentary, Israeli-German co-production, produced for Arte/ZDF, Jury's Award - DocAviv), "Mimon" (Best Family Film - world film festival, Best Television Film - Israeli Film and Television Academy, best film - Eilat IFF).
Bleiberg Entertainment (USA)
Bleiberg Entertainment is a Beverly Hills based production and international sales company formed in September 2005 by veteran producer Ehud Bleiberg. The company operates on a proven and successful business plan with respect to the production, acquisition, financing and distribution of filmed entertainment to the worldwide marketplace with a slate of projects geared toward the theatrical, DVD and TV markets. The company is currently in production on a number of projects including the Holocaust drama "Adam Resurrected," directed by Paul Schrader and starring Jeff Goldblum , Willem Dafoe and Derek Jacobi ; and the zombie action film "Dance of the Dead," directed by Gregg Bishop. Also coming up is Danny Lerner's sophomore project, the action thriller "Kirot". Last year, Bleiberg co-produced the family drama "Love & Dance" with July August Productions. Ehud Bleiberg also served as executive producer on the critically-lauded "Frozen Days". Past credits include : action spoof "Disaster! The Movie" released by Universal/ScreenMedia, "Monster Man" a slick horror film that was co-produced with Lionsgate, the hit film"100 Girls" and it's follow-up "100 Women", the comedy "According to Spencer" starring Jesse Bradford, Mia Kirshner, Adam Goldberg and Giovanni Ribisi; and Official Selection at 1990 Cannes Film Festival "The Appointed", Bleiberg's also represents the international sales of a wide array of films include "He Was A Quiet Man" starring Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert and William H. Macy; "Stephanie Daley" with Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn and Timothy Hutton; The Steve Buscemi-directed comedy "Lonesome Jim" with Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler; and "Erik The Viking" starring Tim Robbins and John Cleese.
For further information please visit our website : www.bleibergent.com
Sophie Dulac Productions (France)
Sophie Dulac Productions was founded in 1999. Its objective is to develop, produce and co-produce features films, documentary films, and short films mainly in the field of arthouse movies and first films. Having mainly produced French films, the company is now developing French and international co-productions. In 2005, Sophie Dulac Productions produced the Argentinean film, "El Cielito" ("The Little Sky") by Maria Victoria Menis. Currently, the company is producing the Argentinean director's next film, "La Camara Oscura" ("The Darkroom"). Sophie Dulac Productions has also just completed "La Question Humaine" ("Heartbeat Detector") by Nicolas Klotz, starring Mathieu Amalric and Michael Lonsdale, selected by the Directors' Fortnight at the 2007 Cannes Festival, as well as a first film "The Band's Visit", directed by Eran Kolirin, starring Sasson Gabaï and Ronit Elkabetz, also at the 2007 Cannes Festival, in the "Un Certain Regard" official selection. In 2003, Sophie Dulac Distribution was set up to give a theatrical release to the films produced by Sophie Dulac Productions as well as other films, thanks to its special relationship with "Les Ecrans de Paris", a network of six theaters in Paris. To date, SD Distribution has distributed more than ten films including "To Take a Wife" by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, "Avanim" by Raphaël Nadjari, "El Cielito" by M.V. Menis, and more recently, "El Custodio" ("The Minder") by Rodrigo Moreno.
For further information please visit our website : www.sddistribution.fr
THE ART OF WORLD CINEMA