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Moonlight Cinema at the Old Train Station

by michael July 14 2008
Things to doFilm

The Band's Visit

It ain't easy being culturally active. You have to keep your ear to the ground. You have to stay abreast of events listings. You have to make difficult decisions: do you see a band, or a film? Wouldn't it be better, you've doubtless asked yourself, if you could see both at the same time (and perhaps not have to pay either)?

Sounds like you need some Moonlight Cinema.

Part of the ongoing Film Festival, Moonlight Cinema is three consecutive nights of free musical performances at the Old Train Station followed by free screenings of Israeli movies, each one definitely worth seeing.

It starts tonight with HaTavlinim playing a set before, appropriately enough, The Band's Visit (pictured), an ecstatically received (and quite excellent) 2007 Israeli production about an Egyptian police band slated to play at the opening of an Arab cultural center in Petach Tikva who, via some linguistic difficulties, wind up in a forgotten Negev development town. Veteran actors Sasson Gabai and Ronit Elkabetz are in fine form as the leads, but the show is stolen by up-and-coming Palestinian uber-hottie Saleh Bakri as a wistful skirt-chaser who just wants to find an Israeli girl with whom he can talk about Chet Baker. The dialogue is mostly in English; the only reason Beaufort represented Israel at the Oscars rather than this feature. Hebrew and Arabic dialogue will be subtitled.

Tomorrow, dig on the sounds of Yali Sobol, then get caught up in a full-on blast from the past with Shablul, the zany film debut of the massively popular late '60s comedy/variety troupe "Lool," from which sprang pop star/actor Arik Einstein and actor/comic Uri Zohar. The film is not subtitled, but frankly, if you're not either Israeli or very invested in Israeli culture, Einstein and Zohar's shenanigans might not make much sense even if it were.

Wednesday's proceedings are kicked off by Malkat HaPlakat, and carry on with Jellyfish, the debut directorial effort of Israeli literary superstar Etgar Keret. Jerusalemite hasn't seen this one, but if it manages to transfer to the screen Keret's rapier wit and sharp social eye, it should be a can't-miss.

Shows on all three nights start at 20:00, and there is a maximum capacity of 2,000 persons, so you may want to come early to ensure a place. And with those lovely Jerusalem summer night breezes coming up from the valleys, you might want to bring a layer of some kind. Jerusalemite's coverage of the Jerusalem Film Festival continues later this week.

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