‘The Band’s Visit’ shows human side to conflict

By Ebonique Wool

The image of loneliness with a touch of hilarity is demonstrated at the very start

of The Band’s Visit, directed by Eran Kolirin, with a group of eight men in

robin’s egg blue uniforms on a dusty brown backdrop, waiting for a ride that

will never come. Kolirin said the movie was about loneliness and tried to glorify

the mundane lives of the working class.

The movie follows an Egyptian band, the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, in their trip to Israel to play at the Arab Cultural Center there. They do not receive a ride from the airport, as they had expected, and end up getting lost while trying to find their destination town and the Arab Cultural Center there. The band members are taken in by local Israelis and develop a bond in the one day they spend there.

The movie was released in 2007 and was spoken in Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles. Because of the amount of English spoken in the movie, it was disqualified from the Academy Awards for best Foreign Film.

Some audience members, after seeing the movie, were moved by the realness of the characters, and the human aspect the movie.

Van Anderson, Champaign resident and first time viewer of the film festival, said the human aspect of the movie was his favorite part.

“I like the way the was story told between the these two countries we’ve watched our whole lives be at war and have those tensions, and see the human aspect, and see the cultures come together.”

The movie screening at the Ebert Film Festival was dedicated to Dusty Cohl, the founder of the Toronto Film Festival and a good friend of Roger Ebert. Michael Barker, co president of Sony Picture Classics, said Cohl passed away at the end of last year suddenly and the movie, “The Band’s Visit” was the type of film Cohl would have supported.

“He was a fixture in the film world and came to the festival every year,” Barker said.

In a discussion on the movie afterward with the director, Kolirin discussed how new technology has made it so people can watch hundreds of different television stations whenever they want, as opposed to the past when there was just one channel for foreign entertainment, and its content came from Egypt.

The sharing of the two cultures is something that has been lost over time, and is a connection Kolirin said he regrets to have lost.

Anderson said this discussion interested him because he was able to see the motivation behind why certain elements were put into the movie.

“I was interested to find out what was behind the movie. Some of the aspects he talked about, like the Egyptian movies, it was interesting to know that was something that came out of his background, and that was something he portrayed in the movie.”

In the light of the continuing war going on between the Israeli and Arab nations, audience members appreciated the non-violent topic. The movie had both comedy and tears, and gave the audience a break from the talk of war.

“I thought it was a very tender movie and it talked to the human aspect of relationships,” said Amani Ayad, originally from Egypt, an alumna of the school and a Champaign-Urbana resident. “It didn’t matter if they were Israeli or

Egyptians, they were humans.”