FOCUS film festival: RONIT ELKABETZ opened in Bucharest on Wednesday night, with Elvire Popesco Cinema hosting the screening of „The Band’s Visit” featuring the iconic Israeli actress.
The festival running September 6,8 and 10, with the support of Israel and France Embassies and French Institute in Bucharest, will screen four exceptional films that confirm the value of the late Ronit Elkabetz, one of the most important female figures of the Israeli cinema: „The Band’s Visit” and the Viviane Amsalem trilogy that she co-directed along with his brother. Ronit Elkabetz died last year at only 51 after a long battle with the cancer.
H.E. Israel’s ambassador to Romania, Mrs. Tamar Samash told the audience during the festival opening that for her “it’s an honor to pay tribute to this front-rank actress who represented the State of Israel”.
“I had the opportunity of personally meeting Ronit Elkabetz 17 years ago during a film festival in Marseilles. Ronit Elkabetz had a sharp look, wearing black all the time, she was a real diva. She proved to be a very nice, friendly person,” the ambassador recalled.
The Israeli diplomat said that “The Band’s Visit” is different from other films featuring Ronit, as it is a comedy, and the other films with her are serious, dramas. “Even so, she succeeds in talking in this film as well about serious topics and to present the human relations in an extraordinary way,” Mrs. Samash concluded.
In his turn, the director of the French Institute in Bucharest, Christophe Gigaudaut said it’s an honor to host the film festival dedicated to Ronit Elkabetz at Elvire Popesco Cinema within the institute which is hosting over 30 festivals every year and hundreds of film screenings. Gigaudaut also described Ronit Elkabetz as “an extremely talented actress, with a blistering look”, who “had a special relation with France”, and collaborated with numerous French artists, such as Fanny Ardant, Ariane Mnouchkine or Catherine Deneuve. He described her films as sensitive movies.
Romanian film director Tudor Giurgiu was also present at the opening of the Ronit Elkabetz retrospective, revealing he, too had the opportunity of meeting the Israeli actress in 2008 when she starred in Fany Ardant’s drama “Ashes and Blood” who was partially shot in Romania. Giurgiu recalled the explanations of Fanny Ardant for choosing Ronit to star as leading actress in the film.
“Fanny confessed it had been a simple decision, as she was fascinated by Ronit’s power and intelligence, and that she felt Ronit is the best actress for this role. Fanny asked Ronit if she was afraid of this role, of walking in high heels on the hills in Transylvania and Ronit answered that she loved the script and she was going to make the film,” the Romanian director recalled.
According to Tudor Giurgiu, Fanny Ardant told him that Ronit had instinct for acting, she was acting with her heart. “For me, she is one of the great personalities of the Israeli cinema of the past decades,” Giurgiu concluded.
Indeed, “The Band’s Visit” directed by Eran Kolirin in 2007, is a tasty comedy, which however hides deep personal dramas behind every characater.
According to the plot, Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, consisting of eight men, arrive in Israel from Egypt. They have been booked by an Arab cultural center to perform in Petah Tikva, but because of a miscommunication (Arabic has no “p” sound, and regularly replaces it with “b”), the band takes a bus to Beit Hatikva, a fictional town in the middle of the Negev Desert.
As there is no transportation out of the city that day, and there are no hotels, the band members dine at a small restaurant where the owner, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) invites them to seek accommodation at her apartment, at her friends’ apartment, and in the restaurant.
And the night proves to be full of insights indeed, while revealing the characters’ personal dramas. The film, although sprinkled with comicalities, is also an excellent setting showing Israelis and Egyptians, formerly foes, as ordinary people, displaying ordinary lives, feelings, hopes and dramas.
The Band’s Visit was well received by critics. It won eight Israeli Ophir Prizes awarded by the Israeli Film Academy and was Israel’s Oscar submission for the Foreign Language Film category of the 80th Academy Awards, but was rejected because it contained over 50% English dialogue.
During the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony in September 2007, Elkabetz brought a message of reconciliation and hope, telling the film director: “You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye.”
You can find further details about the festival on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2w716Qm or on the official page of the Israeli Embassy (@IsraelinRomania).
Tickets are available on Eventbook: http://bit.ly/2vdn82F.
The Romania Journal is supporting the event as media partner.