The Band's Visit Elan Kolirin

The Band's Visit Elan Kolirin
An orchestra of police officers from Egypt arrives to play a ceremonial concert in Israel, and when they receive inadequate directions, end up in a small, industrialised town where they are forced to spend the night. That’s it, the whole premise of the beautifully small and touching movie — "little” in the best sense of the word, where the tiniest pause or stone-faced reaction is the root of the heartfelt comedy on display. On the Egyptian side, you have the world-weary conductor, the shy but talented composer and the young hot-shot who wonders why he’s wasting his time in a powder blue uniform playing violin instead of doing police work. On the Israeli side, it’s a split between suspicion of these Arabic speakers in their midst and a little joy at having someone new to talk to. As the evening unfolds — in cafes, at the homes of reluctant Israeli hosts and at a roller-skating dance — tiny connections are made and broken, commonalities and differences are explored. It all sounds like so much Middle East medicine but the sensitive filmmaking, touching writing and most of all, beautiful performances make The Band’s Visit a delight for any film fan. It’s tender without being treacly, a challenging balance to pull off given the context. A largely unremarkable "making of” is the disc’s lone extra but that hardly matters here. (Mongrel Media)