Written and directed by Elite Zexner, “Sand Storm” is a revealing look at wedding festivities as they get underway in a Bedouin village in Southern Israel.
The Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner follows Jalila (Ruba Blal), a woman who finds herself in the uncomfortable position of hosting her husband Suliman’s (Hitham Omari ) marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila finds out that her eldest daughter Layla (Lamis Ammar ) is involved with a boy from her university – a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Trying to separate them, Jalila tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her, though Layla has different plans for her life.
“About eight years ago, I escorted an 18-year-old to her arranged marriage ceremony to a man she had never met and she told me had a boyfriend in college,” Zexer told IndieWire back in February about her inspiration for the film. “She said, ‘For my daughter, it will be different.’ When I made a short about a different culture (Bedouin) I liked the process and the Bedouins asked me when I would make another film.”
“Sand Storm” premiered opening night at this year’s Sundance. It also won the Best Film Award at the Ophir Awards and is Israel’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote in his B review that the movie “maintains a thrilling degree of uneasiness by implication: Nobody wants exactly the same thing, but no one thing will make everyone happy.” Adding, “‘Sand Storm’ lingers in the crevices of a fascinating cultural challenge.”
“Sand Storm” will be released on December 15 on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.