SAND STORM/ SUFOT CHOL. Israel, 2016. Starring Lamis Ammar. Directed by Elite Zexer. 87 minutes. Rated PG (Mild themes and coarse language).
Sand Storm is an Israeli film, about a Bedouin village and its customs, spoken in Arabic.
As the film opens, we see traffic on the highway, the goods train passing by, and then a dirt track down into the Bedouin village. A father and daughter are driving, carrying a bed which he cannot take into the house because women are present and his first wife is preparing for his marriage to a second wife.
Immediately the focus is on the role of women in this village, the domination of the men, the subservience of the wives, the older wife having to prepare the house and the marriage celebration for the younger wife, while the younger wife is young and inexperienced. The man already has four daughters.
Another complication is that the rather wilful oldest daughter has been seeing a young man in secret, wants to marry him, the father forbidding it and organising a husband for his daughter. The prospective young man comes to the village to visit, the mother hides him amongst the washing so that he won’t encounter the father, but he does.
The film shows the somewhat cavalier and patriarchal attitude of the father, the determination of the young daughter, the suffering of the mother who then leaves the home to stay with her own mother.
The action of the film is inconclusive – one of the mischievous younger daughters who has already laughed when the new wife has sat on the bed and it collapsed, is now looking at the young wife again, and the credits roll.
JIFF Released 1st December
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.