Written and directed by first-timer Elite Zexer, the Arabic-language film will be released by Beta Cinema after competing in the Park City festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition and screening as part of the Berlinale’s Panorama section. “Sand Storm” also won the top award at the Locarno International Film Festival’s competition for works in progress.
Here’s the description of the film, which centers on a woman dealing with her husband’s second wife, as well as her college-age daughter’s taboo relationship: “As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Southern Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles across eldest daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university — a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Burying the indignity of Suliman and his new bride living next door, Jalila also tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her. But younger and possessed of a boundless spirit, Layla sees a different life for herself.”
Beta Cinema’s Thorsten Ritter commented: “‘Sand Storm’ is a true gem. It depicts a very particular world and culture, but never in a folkloristic or exposing way. Instead it draws you right in to find yourself immersed in family dynamics that resonate universally and regardless of being a man or woman. And while the film has not a scene too many, it is yet nuanced and multi-layered, featuring beautiful performances and a filmmaker in full command.”