The Band's Visit

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The Band's Visit- Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (original)
The Band's Visit.jpg
Directed by Eran Kolirin
Produced by Ehud Bleiberg
Koby Gal-Raday
Guy Jacoel
Eylon Ratzkovsky
Yossi Uzrad
Written by Eran Kolirin
Starring Saleh Bakri
Ronit Elkabetz
Sasson Gabai
Uri Gavriel
Music by Habib Shadah
Cinematography Shai Goldman
Edited by Arik Leibovitch
Distributed by Sony Classics
Release date
  • 19 May 2007 (2007-05-19)
Running time
87 minutes
Country Israel
United States
Language Arabic
Box office $14,555,884 (world)[1]

The Band's Visit (Hebrew: ביקור התזמורת - Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) is a 2007 Israeli film directed by Eran Kolirin.

The Band's Visit was Israel's original Foreign Language Film submission for the 80th Academy Awards, but was rejected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences because it contained over 50% English dialogue.[2] Thus, Israel sent Beaufort instead; Beaufort was finally included in the five final nominees.[3] 'Band's Visit' won eight Israeli Ophir Prizes awarded by the Israeli Film Academy.[4]


The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, consisting of eight men, arrive in Israel from Egypt. They have been booked by an Arab cultural center in Petah Tikva, but through a miscommunication (Arabic has no "p" sound, and regularly replaces it with "b"), the band takes a bus to Beit Hatikva, a fictional town in the middle of the Negev Desert.[5] The Egyptians encounter a few Israeli townspeople, who respond with curiosity about the band, are variously friendly and wary, and provide them with shelter, food, music and companionship during their visit. There is no transportation out of the city that day, and there are no hotels for them to spend the night in. The band members dine at a small restaurant where the owner, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) invites them to stay the night at her apartment, at her friends' apartment, and in the restaurant. No one quite falls in love, but a sense of unspoken longing and loneliness is expressed.[6]


Sasson Gabai's characterization and playing of Tawfiq Zacharya was hailed by the critics, who described him as "an actor of real skill, and an artist capable of the deepest understanding of the human condition."[7] During the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony in September 2007, Saleh Bakri, "the band's handsome young trumpet player"[8] thanked his parents and said, "I want to thank my father, who taught me to love mankind, and my mother, who taught me to bear the burden of life in this country and stand strong," he said.

For her role in the movie, critics described Ronit Elkabetz as "wonderful...a kind-hearted lonely heart refusing to wilt in her desert town".[9] During the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony in September 2007, Elkabetz brought a message of reconciliation and hope, and after taking a bow before the film's director, she said to him, "You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The Band's Visit was well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 98% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 108 reviews, and gave it a golden tomato for best foreign film of 2008.[10]

Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter named the film the second best of 2007, [11] V.A. Musetto of the New York Post named it the 8th best film of 2007, [11] and both Ella Taylor of LA Weekly [11] and Associated Press film critic David Germain named it the 9th best film of 2007. [12] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times selected it as one of the 20 best films of 2008.[13]

According to Roger Ebert, "The Band’s Visit has not provided any of the narrative payoffs we might have expected, but has provided something more valuable: An interlude involving two “enemies,” Arabs and Israelis, that shows them both as only ordinary people with ordinary hopes, lives and disappointments. It has also shown us two souls with rare beauty."[14]

The skating rink scene is considered a highlight of the film:[15] "The band's handsome young trumpet player, Khaled, who idolizes jazz icon Chet Baker, encounters the resident Papi (Shlomi Avraham, שלומי אברהם (he)), an Israeli nebbish and accompanies him on a blind date at a roller-skating rink. When the local boy proves too awkward to make any advances to his date, the more experienced Egyptian guides him along, wordlessly, but with eloquent gestures."[8]

Language disqualification[edit]

Under the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, more than half the dialogue in a foreign film entry must be in the originating country's own language. However, The Band's Visit, whose Egyptian and Israeli characters communicate mainly in broken English, didn't meet the requirement and was disqualified by the Oscar committee. Even so, Sony Pictures, the film's distributor, entered it in the general Oscar categories of best picture, director, screenplay, actor and actress—none of which came through for the film.

"Nobody in Israel thought about the language problem," said Kolirin, who spent four years making the film. When he heard about the adverse American decision, "I was pissed off for a few days, but I've gotten over it," he said during a visit to Los Angeles.[16]

Release dates[edit]

Stage adaptation[edit]

The film has been adapted into a stage musical, also titled The Band’s Visit. The musical has a book by Itamar Moses with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. The musical opened at the Off-Broadway Linda Gross Theater, produced by the Atlantic Theatre Company, on November 11, 2016, closing on January 8, 2017. Directed by David Cromer, with choreography by Patrick McCollum, the cast stars Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani and Katrina Lenk.[17][18][19]

The musical won the 2017 Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Musical, the 2017 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical.[20][21][22] The production transferred to Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, with previews beginning on October 7, 2017 and full opening on November 9.[23]

Awards and nominations[edit]



  • Best Art Direction - Award of the Israeli Film Academy
  • Best Cinematography - Award of the Israeli Film Academy
  • Best Editing - Award of the Israeli Film Academy
  • Best Sound - Award of the Israeli Film Academy
  • Best Supporting Actress - Award of the Israeli Film Academy
  • Best Screenplay - European Film Awards
  • Best Performance by an Actor (Sasson Gabai) - Asia Pacific Screen Awards
  • Grand Prix - Flanders International Film Festival


  1. ^ Box Office Mojo. Last Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  2. ^ Israeli film wins country's first two European Academy Awards - Haaretz - Israel News
  3. ^ a b,7340,L-3452011,00.html
  4. ^,7340,L-3464872,00.html Ynetnews. Culture. Art&Culture. The Band's Visit' wins Tokyo festival' by Merav Yudilovitch 28 October 2007. Retrieved on 4 August 2009.
  5. ^ [1] Baltimore Sun review
  6. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 December 2007). "Strangers in a Land That's Not So Strange". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  7. ^ IMDb Message Boards. Dracher.
  8. ^ a b Film: Israel’s ‘Band’s Visit’ finally plays L.A. By Tom Tugend
  9. ^ Ronit Elkabetz bio
  10. ^ "The Band's Visit - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2008. 
  12. ^ David Germain; Christy Lemire (27 December 2007). "'No Country for Old Men' earns nod from AP critics". Associated Press, via Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Ebert's Top Movies of 2008". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Band's Visit". Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ IMDB. Bikur Ha-Tizmoret
  16. ^
  17. ^ Clement, Olivia. "'The Band’s Visit' Musical Begins Tonight Off-Broadway" Playbill, November 11, 2016
  18. ^ Ezovski, Mark. "David Yazbek Previews New Musical 'The Band’s Visit' at Feinstein’s/54 Below" Playbill, July 29, 2016
  19. ^ Simoes, Monica. "In Rehearsal with Atlantic Theater Company's 'The Band's Visit'" Playbill, October 13, 2016
  20. ^ McPhee, Ryan. " 'The Band's Visit' and 'Oslo' Win 2017 Drama Critics’ Circle Awards" Playbill, May 8, 2017
  21. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Ben Platt, 'The Band’s Visit', and 'Oslo' Take Top Honors at 2017 Lucille Lortel Awards" Playbill, May 7, 2017
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Bette Midler, 'Come From Away', and 'The Band’s Visit' Win Outer Critics Circle Awards" Playbill, May 8, 2017
  23. ^ Levitt, Hayley (2017-05-24). "The Band's Visit Will March to Broadway This Fall". Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  24. ^, Cinema One Originals movies dominate 10th Cinemanila award rites

External links[edit]