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YNet News | October 22, 2007

The forced visit

Those who boycotted the Israeli film "The band's visit" at the international film festival set to be held in Egypt at the end of next month, will receive a "visit" to Cairo nonetheless.

"The band's visit" is set to be shown in a special screening organized by the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Shalom Cohen, in December, immediately following the film festival that Israel was not invited to partake in.

Cohen took advantage of his last visit to Israel to watch "The Band's Visit," which unfolds the story of an encounter between the residents of a remote development town and the members of an Egyptian police band that arrives there by mistake. The sleepy residents of the town don't know what to make of the band that landed on their doorstep. Actress Ronit Elkabetz, who portrays a local restaurant owner invites the band's conductor Sasson Gabai to her home, and arranges accommodation for the other members.

The film focuses on the relationship that evolves between the embarrassed Egyptians and the arrogant Israelis who regard them as somewhat bizarre. Gradually, despite differences in language and culture, a relationship develops between the members of the band and their hosts.

"I enjoyed the movie very much and decided to organize a screening at one of the movie theaters in Cairo or at my home," the ambassador said.

The ambassador's defiant decision is expected to create a storm among the camp that is opposed to normalization with Israel and which doesn't miss a chance to demand nullification of the peace agreement and the expulsion of the "Zionist enemy's ambassador" from Egypt.

Cohen does not relate to such a possibility and prefers keeping to diplomatic statements.

The ambassador's defiant act coincides with the 30th anniversary of President Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, who promised to break the psychological barrier between the nations. However, the barrier in Jerusalem has not been broken and is even becoming stronger.

The stars of "The band's visit" by film director Eran Kolirin, will arrive in Cairo for the screening, and Egyptian business persons in touch with the Israeli embassy, as well as intellectuals, media personnel and foreign ambassadors will also be invited to the special screening.

The award winning movie sparked quite an interest in the Arab world and a copy of the film was sent to the film festival in Abu Dhabi which is set to open at the end of the week. After festival organizers approved the screening, Egypt's film actors' association exerted pressure on Abu Dhabi threatening to boycott the event if the official boycott of Israel was violated.

At the same time a copy of the film was sent to the international film festival in Cairo, since the plot is likely to interest the Egyptian public. However, after watching the film the organizers of the Egyptian festival announced that they have no intention of breaking the Israeli boycott forcing them into cultural cooperation. The organizers added that they are against any move that would symbolize normal relations with Israel.,7340,L-3462841,00.html

Posted on 24-10-2007

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