Sun. January 31, 3:30pm, Eccles Theatre, Park City
Best of Fest: Mon. February 1, 9:00pm, Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort
As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles across eldest daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university—a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Burying the indignity of Suliman and his new bride living next door, Jalila also tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her. But younger and possessed of a boundless spirit, Layla sees a different life for herself.
A story of tradition, modernity, and divided family, Sand Storm upends expectations. At its core, Elite Zexer’s mesmerizing debut feature portrays the emotionally layered relationship between mother and daughter, both bound by custom while struggling to adapt to a changing world. Zexer’s artful storytelling derives its authenticity—its complexity of character, rich detail, and subtle humor—from the 10 years she’s spent interacting with Bedouin women. Her fidelity to their experience allows her to beautifully convey the spirit of profound ambivalence Jalila and Layla share.
Elite Zexer graduated from Tel Aviv University, where she received both a BFA and MFA, the latter in film directing. Her previous films include the shorts Take Note, which won the Best Fiction Film Award at the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival, and Tasnim, which participated in over 120 film festivals around the world and won several international awards. She also directed the documentary short Fire Department Bnei Brak before helming her first feature.