The Band’s Visit & Garbage Warrior

The Band’s Visit & Garbage Warrior featured image

by Marc Glassman.

The Band’s Visit (Bikur Hatizmoret) Eran Kolirin, director & script; Starring: Sasson Gabai (Tewfiq), Ronit Elkabetz (Dina), Saleh Bakri (Khaled), Khalifa Natour (Simon), Rubi Moscovich (Itzik)

Garbage Warrior. Feature documentary by Oliver Hodge featuring Michael Reynolds

The Band’s Visit

When a group of Egyptian police musicians arrives by mistake in a sleepy Israeli town, funny and warm encounters are bound to ensue. That’s the premise of The Band’s Visit, a light, humanist comedy that swept the Israeli Film Awards last year and has gone on to garner prizes in festivals from Cannes to Sarajevo to Montreal. Director and scriptwriter Eran Kolirin has crafted a gentle, yet moving tale of the meeting of simple people from both sides of the Arab Israeli divide, uncovering more similarities than differences between the two.

Although the film is an ensemble affair designed around the various encounters between members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Orchestra and the denizens of a small Israeli restaurant, inevitably one story achieves greater prominence. Luckily it’s the right one: a tale of foiled romance and missed signals between Dina, the sexy, slightly older owner of the restaurant and Tewfiq, the shy, overly officious leader of the band. Over the course of an evening, the two share their poignant personal histories while wandering through Dina’s bleak little town. Their story is contrasted by the comic efforts of the handsome Khaled to teach Papi, one of Dina’s employees, how to romance a young Israeli girl.

The Band’s Visit is structured around two shots of the police band, dressed neatly in their powder blue uniforms appearing almost magically in the Israeli desert. It lends an air of the tall tale or a parable to this sweet little film. The cinema can be full of epics and sensationalism. It’s nice to celebrate the Alexandria Celebration Orchestra and this marvelous Israeli “non-epic.”

Garbage Warrior

The movement towards sustainable living has many advocates but few have been working at it for as long as Michael Reynolds, the subject of Oliver Hodge’s feature doc Garbage Warrior. Trained as an architect, Reynolds has been making houses out of recycled material—beer cans, plastic bottles, the refuse of society—since the ‘70s in the area around Taos, New Mexico.

Reynolds’ houses and, eventually, subdivisions, were run on solar power and recycled waste materials for decades before the authorities decided to shut him down for housing code violations in the late ‘90s. Garbage Warrior documents Reynolds’ fight to change the laws in New Mexico to allow him and others to experiment and create new sustainable houses. It also follows him to the Indian sub-continent where his laudable work in creating new homes for people devastated by the tsunami got Reynolds back his architecture license, which had been taken away from him nearly ten years earlier.

Michael Reynolds is a passionate believer in green living. No hippie, he wants to fight the system from within. Reynolds is a big, bold man—a great subject for a documentary. He’s a rebel with a cause. Garbage Warrior is an entertaining, didactic doc, which should help to fuel the current debates around green living and sustainable methods of surviving on this planet.

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