Despite struggles, boycotts and threats, the acclaimed Israeli feature film “The Band's Visit” will finally be making it to Egypt this week.
The film was rejected by the Cairo International Film Festival, and later on the Egyptian Actors’ Guild threatened to boycott the Abu Dhabi Film Festival for accepting the film. This eventually resulted in the latter dropping the film in the last minute. Despite all that, a special screening of the film will be held in Cairo this coming Thursday.
The Israeli Embassy in Egypt invited director Eran Kolirin to the screening event of "The Band’s Visit", after an exhausting race between movie theaters and cultural centers in Cairo had yielded unanimous refusals to screen the “Zionist film” for fear of it being misinterpreted by the intellectual milieus as consenting to “cultural normalization” or “artistic collaboration.”
After tallying the supporters versus the objectors, the Egyptian premiere of "The Band’s Visit" will be held Thursday at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel’s auditorium, owned by no other than the billionaire Saudi Prince, Al-Walid bin Talal.
The film, depicting the Alexandria police band's visit to Israel’s remote southern town, was screened a few times in private homes in Egypt and won praise. Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni has even told Yedioth Ahronoth, “I saw the film and it’s excellent.”
However, despite his compliments, Hosni firmly objected to having "The Band’s Visit" or any other Israeli movie screened in Egypt, claiming that “it’s unadvisable to have the anti-peace opposers burn down our movie theaters because of an Israeli event.”
The Israeli Embassy sent out more than 200 invitations to businessmen, scholars and Egyptian intellectuals, but it remains to be seen who of the local invitees will muster up the courage to attend the screening and risk entering his name into the media’s “black lists.”
A Q& A with director Eran Kolirin will be held after the screening.