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Cairo Screening: Israeli Film 'The Band's Visit'

(Communicated by Israel Embassy in Cairo)

Cairo screening of Israeli film - The Band's Visit

The Israeli embassy in Cairo held a festive screening on 10 July of the award-winning Israeli film, The Band's Visit. The film, which was rejected a year ago for political reasons by the Cairo International Film Festival, was screened for the first time publicly in Egypt as part of the cultural events organized by the Israeli embassy. The film, which met with great success, aroused much public and media attention.

More than a hundred people, including prominent Egyptian intellectuals and cultural figures, media personalities, senior government officials, and Egyptian and foreign diplomats were present at the special screening, which took place at an exclusive Cairo hotel. The film's director, Eran Kolirin, was invited to Cairo by the embassy especially for the screening, the first to be held in an Arab country, and afterwards addressed the audience.

Kolirin told the viewers that he was very excited about the Cairo screening. "Although I've never been in Cairo, everything here is familiar to me," Kolirin said, "maybe because, as a child, I was an avid fan of the Egyptian movies that were shown on Israel television." Kolirin, who is making his debut as a commercial film director with this movie, told how the idea for the script, which he wrote, was partly inspired by well-known Egyptian writer Ali Salem's book, Journey to Israel. Salem, who was sitting in the audience, smiled at these words. "I believe in cultural cooperation between countries," Salem commented at the end of the event. "The movie was well done and sensitive, and I hope that many Egyptians will see it."

Reactions to the film, which won the Coup de Coeur du Jury award at the Cannes Festival, were very positive. The audience burst into laughter many times throughout the screening, applauding enthusiastically at the end of a particularly emotional scene. Many asked where they could see the movie again. "This is an excellent film," said an Egyptian journalist, "I will recommend it to my friends." Another Egyptian viewer said that she had already seen the film outside of Egypt but came to the screening because of its importance. "It's about time," she said, "to stop using culture as a political tool – we can only benefit (by it)."

The film screening is part of the cultural activities organized by the Israeli embassy in Cairo, which aims to bring closer not only governments but also peoples. Recent events in this vein include a performance by Israeli musician Yair Delal and the launching of the Arabic translation of Yasmin, a book by Israeli author Eli Amir.

"I am happy and proud to show an Israeli movie in Cairo," Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, said in an interview following the event. "Culture is one of the most important tools for bringing people closer. Sometimes, this area can be more important than diplomacy." Cohen thanked the Egyptian government for its assistance in the screening.


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