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Film / The Band's Visit

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Once, not long ago, a small Egyptian police band arrived in Israel. Not many remember this. It wasn't that important.

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, distributed in English speaking countries as The Band's Visit, is a 2007 Israeli film directed by Eran Kolirin and starring Saleh Bakri, Ronit Elkabetz, Sasson Gabai and Uri Gavriel. It tells the story of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, a band of eight Egyptian classical musicians who travel to Israel to perform in the Arab Cultural Center in Petah Tiqva, but take the wrong bus because of a tricky language barrier and wind up in a small town named Bet Hatikva, in the middle of the desert. They then discover that there will be no further buses there for the rest of the day, forcing them to spend the night there.

What follows is a gently comedic story of clashing cultures and awkwardness, as the band and the locals befriend one another.

The film was submitted to the 80th Academy Awards but was declared ineligible due to the frequent use of the English language (foreign films submitted to the Awards must be performed in their native language). However, it won eight Ophir Awards from the Israeli Film Academy. A Screen-to-Stage Adaptation hit Broadway in 2018 and swept the Tonys.


This film provides examples of:

  • Arab Beoble Talk: The band are supposed to perform at Petakh Tikva. The problem is, the kh-sound (/χ/) is officially transcribed as <h>, and the band leader, being from Egypt, mispronounces the /p/ when asking how to get there, and so they wind up at the (fictional) town of Bet haTikva.
  • The Charmer: Haled, the youngest musician, is quite the ladies' man, to the annoyance of Tawfiq, who tries to keep him disciplined. Near the end, he hooks up with Dina.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Tewfiq used to have a wife and son, but the son was Driven to Suicide, which is implied to have made his mother do the same.
  • Dramatic Pause: Used frequently, sometimes for tension, other times for comedic effect.
  • Fish out of Water: The band, none of whom speak Hebrew, are stranded in a small town in Israel.
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  • Lower-Class Lout: Papi's friend Zelger is an ars, with a shaved head, gaudy clothes and jewelry, and driving around in his car blasting music from the speakers.
  • The Quiet One: The band members, with the exception of Haled, rarely speak.
  • Romantic Wingman: Haled helps Papi finally get his first kiss with a girl.
  • Small Town Boredom: The inhabitants of Bet Hatikva are well aware that they live in a boring town in the middle of nowhere, and the band's accidental visit is the most interesting thing to happen in a while.
  • The Stoic: Tewfiq barely shows any emotion, though neither do most of the rest of the musicians other than Haled.
  • Third Wheel: Haled tags along on Zelger and Papi's double date with Zelger's girlfriend Anna and her cousin Julia. In a twist, he ends up being Papi's Romantic Wingman and helping him break the ice with Julia.