Israeli dreams of Cairo berth

Politics halts 'Visit'

CANNES — If there’s one thing Israeli helmer Eran Kolirin wants more than winning a prize at Cannes, it’s getting his debut feature “The Band’s Visit” into the Cairo film fest, which unspools Nov. 27-Dec. 7.

Kolirin is even enlisting the help of the European Union to smooth the politically bumpy road into selection and engineer a Croisette sitdown between the helmer and Cairo fest officials.

Though Egypt and Israel have officially been at peace since the 1979 Camp David Accords, a significant portion of the Egyptian public has remained uneasy about the agreement given ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict in the rest of the region.

“It would be the biggest dream for me to screen this film at Cairo,” Kolirin said. “I know it will be very, very hard but we’re trying to meet with the Cairo people in Cannes.”

Pic, selected for Un Certain Regard, is about a visiting Egyptian police band that gets lost in Israel and end up stranded in a remote Israeli town for 24 hours.

Kolirin was compelled to cast Palestinian actors in the role of the Egyptian musicians after being turned down by those thesps.

Helmer grew up in the ’80s on a staple diet of Egyptian movies shown on public TV in Israel.

“I used to sit and watch them with my grandmother,” Kolirin said. “It’s sad that after Israeli TV channels got privatized in the ’90s, the habit of watching Egyptian movies was lost. Why did we start buying our love stories from Spain and not our nearest neighbor?”

Kolirin’s wishes look likely to fall on deaf ears, however.

“Forget it,” said Cairo film fest veepee Suheir Abdelkader. “We won’t take any Israeli film in any section because of the politics. We don’t want to create a problem with the public.”

Bleiberg Entertainment is handling international sales for Kolirin’s pic.

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