Arabic ‘Sand Storm’ at Academy Awards

in Life, Culture & Sports

This is a first in Israel’s film industry: The award-winning film ‘Sand Storm’ is a directorial debut by Elite Xexer and is now on its way to represent Israel at the upcoming Academy Awards. The catch is that the Israeli family drama ‘Sand Storm’ is spoken entirely in Arabic.

Sand Storm won many prizes already (Credit: Sand Storm)
Sand Storm won many prizes already (Credit: Sand Storm)

The plot is about a remote Beduin community. When teenage girl Layla (Ruba Blal) refuses to live and love according to the outdated traditions she disrupts the traditional community along with her mother who chooses to support her after struggling to see her husband marrying a second wife.

Mother Jalila faces challenges with her daughter and husband (Credit: Sand Storm)
Mother Jalila faces challenges with her daughter and husband (Credit: Sand Storm)

The film already won six of Israel’s Ophir Awards this year, the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Drama’s section 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and the First Look Rotor Film Award at the Locarno International Film Festival.

A wedding in a Bedouin village in the desert of southern Israel. Woman and men celebrate and dance separately whilst the bride sits alone at the edge of the exuberant gathering. Hostess Jalila is also overwhelmed and covers up her emotions. It is the wedding of her husband Suliman he is taking a younger woman as his second wife. On top of that, her oldest daughter, the self-confident Layla, is also causing her concern: she has fallen for a boy at her university. Aware that her husband will not allow this relationship, Jalila forbids Layla from seeing the boy again. But when Suliman reacts even more harshly, she takes up her daughter’s cause.
Whilst Jalila initially adopts a quiet approach, her daughter chooses instead to go on the offensive. When this threatens to tear apart the family, it becomes clear that Layla’s temperament, strength and self-assurance are not enough to overcome the rigid social structures. Nonetheless, the women standing together in solidarity could pave the way for more freedom – at least for the next generation. (Source: IMDB)

Middle East correspondent who is passionate about writing human interest stories. Published with: Spiegel Online, Bento, Welt, Welt am Sonntag, Zeit Online, Focus Online, Berliner Zeitung, dpa and others

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