Band’s Visit: Director Eran Kolirin

Cannes Film Fest 2007–Eran Kolirin is the the director and writer of “The Band’s Visit,” the best israeli film I saw this year. World-premiering in Cannes Fest ib May, it won a number of major awards and is now Israel’s official entry for the Best Foreighn-Lnaguage Oscar.

Personal Film

When I was a kid, my family and I used to watch Egyptian movies. This was a fairly common Israeli family practice circa early 1980s. In the late afternoon on Fridays wed watch with bated breaths the convoluted plots, the impossible loves and the heart-breaking pain of Omar Sharif, Pathen Hamama, Idel Imam, and the rest of that crew on the one and only TV channel that the country had.

Weird Experience

This was kind of weird, actually, for a country that spent half of its existence in a state of war with Egypt, and the other half in a sort of cold, correct peace with its neighbor to the south. Sometimes, after the Arabic movie, theyd broadcast a performance of the Israeli Broadcasting Authoritys orchestra. This was a classical Arab orchestra, made up almost entirely of Arab Jews from Iraq and Egypt. When you think of the IBA orchestra, maybe the custom of watching Egyptian movies ceremony sounds a little less odd.

End of an Era

The Arab movie has long since disappeared from our screens. TV became privatized, and has sunk out there among the fifty seven or who knows how many channels that have descended on us. And then the IBA orchestra was disbanded. We got MTV and BBC and RTL and Israeli Idol and pop songs
and 30-second commercials. So who cares about quarter-tone songs that last half an hour any more

No Signs in Arabaic

Afterwards, Israel built the new airport, and they forgot to translate the road signs into Arabic. Among the thousands of shops they built there, they found no room for the strange, curling script that is the mother tongue of half our population. Its easy to forget the things that H&M and pull and Bear and Levis etc. Over time, weve forgotten ourselves too.

Why We Need Peace

A lot of movies have been made touching on the question of why there is no peace, but it seems that fewer have been made about the question of why we need peace in the first place. The obvious is lost on us in the midst of conversations centering on economic advantages and interests.

At the end of the day, my son and my neighbors son will meet, I am sure of that, in some neon-blinking mall under a giant McDonalds sign. Maybe thats some kind of comfort, I dont know. Whats certain, though, is that weve lost something on the way. We traded true-love for the one-night stands, art for commerce, and human connection, the magic of conversation, for the question of how big a sloce of the pie we can put our hands on.

Kolirin’s Bio

Born in 1973, Eran Kolirins first work for cinema was the screenplay for the film “Zur Hadassi,” for which he won the Lipper Prize for best screenplay at the 1999 Jerusalem International Film Festival.

In 2004, Eran Kolirin wrote and directed “The Long Journey,” a film made for TV. “The Bands Visit” is Erans first feature film.

Currently, Eran is writing his second film entitled, “Pathways to the Desert.”