The Band's Visit

Cast: Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabetz, Saleh Bakri, Khalifa Natour
Director: Eran Kolrin
Genre: Drama
Rated: M
Running Time: 85 minutes

The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra arrives in Israel to play at the opening of anArab Cultural Centre. Dressed in full regalia and observing all military police protocol, themembers of the orchestra are at a pivotal time in their careers. It’s not just the politicalnature of an Arab military police band playing traditional Arab music in Israel that makes thisevent so important; budget cuts and many reorganizations have threatened the continuedexistence of the Orchestra. Faced with the heavy burden of this assignment,the stoic conductor Tewfiq (Sasson Gabai) is determined not to foul their excursion.

Despite all Tewfiq's efforts, it’s not long before problems arise. The band arrives at theairport with no one there to greet them. Stranded and unable able to contact their Israelihosts or the Egyptian consulate for help, Tewfiq decides that the Orchestra will perseverewith its assignment and orders, and designates Khaled, a suave young ladies man (SalehBakri), to ask for directions. Khaled and the station agent struggle in English, Arabic andHebrew to communicate, but despite their best efforts, the Orchestra is sent to theoutskirts of a small forgotten Israeli town in the desert.

Faced with an unknown landscape, and disgruntled and hungry men, Tewfiq brings the mento a small café in the nearby town and humbly asks the proprietor, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), forlunch. Not wanting the turn the Orchestra away, Dina invites the men to stay with her and afew of her friends. To punish Khaled for his earlier subordination, Tewfiq orders Khaled tostay with him at Dina’s, while the other men break up and follow their hosts for the night.

Dina brings the two men to her modest apartment where they begin to discuss not thepolitical issues that divides their two cultures, but it’s the intimate details of their personallives that bring the trio closer together. Before long, Dina’s wry, playful self-confidence, andundisguised sexuality make Tewfiq immediately uncomfortable. Regardless, she is persistentin her attraction to the older, serious Tewfiq, and after someprodding from Khaled, the melancholy band leader reluctantly accepts Dina's invitation todinner. The proud Arab man in his powder blue military uniform and the free-spirited Israeliwoman make an odd couple at the local restaurant, but her persistent compassion breaksthrough his gentlemanly demeanour and the duo form a bridge of understanding.

With the older Dina and Tewfiq gone from the apartment, Khaled decides to tag along withpeople closer to his age and convinces the shy and insecure Papi (Shlomi Avraham) to lethim join as the fourth wheel on a double date night at a roller disco. When Papi fails tocourt the girl his cousin set up as his blind date, Papi turns to the suave Khaled for advice.

With a little prodding and a lot of direction, Khaled helps Papi break the ice with his date.Meanwhile, the other band members, headed by second-in-command Simon (KhalifaNatour), stay with Itzik (Rubi Moscovich), which ultimately lead to tensions with his familyand to revelations about fulfilment that cross cultural boundaries.

When the band leaves in the morning for their intended destination, it is clear that theirunplanned detour was worth the trip.


Special Features: At The Movies Interview with Ronit Elkabetz and Trailer.

 
 

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