Israeli actor wins at European festival

Sasson Gabai wins Best Actor for The Band's Visit. Director Kolirin wins Discovery of the Year award.

Sasson Gabai 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Sasson Gabai 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Veteran Israeli thespian and film actor Sasson Gabai was voted Actor of the Year in the European Academy Awards ceremony held in Berlin on Saturday, Israel Radio reported. Gabai won the prize for the lead role in Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit. Kolirin himself won the prize of Discovery of the Year. The Band's Visit tells the (fictional) story of an Egyptian orchestra arriving in Israel as a guest of an Arabic music cultural center in Petah Tikva, but mistakenly ending in a remote (also fictional) small southern town. "It is a great honor," Gabai said after winning. "I didn't believe it would happen. I am very happy, but I was disappointed to see my name among nominees Michel Piccoli, James McCavoy and other heavyweights which I have admired for many years." Ronit Elkabetz, Khalifa Natour and Salah Bakri co-star in the film alongside Gabai. The film has already won eight Israeli Ophir prizes and was nominated in five European Academy Awards categories. It has also won the prestigious Sakura Prize in the International Tokyo Film Festival, the Jury Prize and Audience Favorite Prize in the International Copenhagen Film Festival and the Best Director in the Athens Festival. The film was disqualified from competing in the Academy Awards (Oscar) Foreign Film category because of the relative little use of foreign languages (Hebrew and Arabic) in the film. Most of the dialogue - between Israeli and Egyptian characters - is in English.