Discovery

Sand Storm

Elite Zexer

In a Bedouin village in southern Israel, a matriarch preparing for her husband’s marriage to a second wife takes out her suppressed emotions on her eldest daughter, who has embarked upon a clandestine relationship with a boy at school.

In a Bedouin village in southern Israel, Jalila prepares to host an awkward celebration: the marriage of her husband to a second (and noticeably younger) wife. Stoically concealing her inner turmoil while trying to maintain tradition, Jalila will brook no nonsense from any of her daughters on a day when the eyes of the entire village are upon them. But when Jalila discovers that her eldest, Layla, is involved in a clandestine relationship with a boy at school, all her suppressed emotion finds an outlet.

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.

The result of a robust collaboration between Jewish Israeli director Elite Zexer and a combined Jewish and Arab crew, Sand Storm details a struggle between two iron-willed female characters, propelled by the performances of Lamis Ammar as the spirited Layla and Ruba Blal-Asfour as the acid-tongued Jalila. The tension between them highlights the challenges of all women struggling for autonomy within deeply entrenched patriarchal constraints, and Zexer's film shows the intense psychological gymnastics performed by families who live one life outside of the house and another within — all wrapped up in the tangled tapestry of society and tradition.

JANE SCHOETTLE

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