7:30 PM, 2nd May, 2017
‘My eyes are open. Believe me, they are open.’
High noon in a Bedouin village in southern Israel’s Negev Desert. Jalila is hosting an awkward celebration – the marriage of her husband to a second, much younger wife – while trying to conceal the humiliation that boils inside her. Her daughter Layla is preoccupied with a different matter: her secret, strictly forbidden love affair with Anuar, a university friend.
Layla, more like her mother than she will admit, is convinced that reason and resolve will be enough to win her freedom, but village politics quickly close that door. As Layla, her mother, her sisters and the men of the village all navigate territory strewn with emotional landmines, Sand Storm spins a riveting tale of subterfuge, secrets, and fealty.
Written and directed by Elite Zexer, an Israeli filmmaker making a solid, sensitive feature debut in collaboration with a combined Jewish and Arab crew, Sand Storm was the darling of film festival critics and audiences around the world, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress at the 2016 Ophir Awards (Israeli Oscars).
Elite Zexer’s artful storytelling derives its authenticity – its complexity of character, rich detail, and subtle humour – from the 10 years she personally spent interacting with Bedouin women. A story of tradition, modernity and divided family, Sand Storm portrays the layered relationship between mother and daughter, both bound by custom while struggling to adapt to a changing world.