51 of #52FilmsByWomen: Sand Storm

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Sand Storm (2016, written and directed by Elite Zexer)

[No. 51 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]

This movie is about Layla, played by Lamis Ammar who lives with parents and three younger sisters in a Bedouin village. Like in many other places, their culture and traditions are still highly patriarchal and important life decisions are completely in the control of men.

Sand Storm has an interesting take on the lives of women in such a society. Indeed, we have our female characters wants and desires constantly being constantly subverted. But even the male characters is shown not to really benefit here. Layla’s father Suliman (Hitham Omari) is initially introduced to be ostensibly progressive, as he encourages her to excel at her studies and teaches her to drive. But still,  he marries a second wife and arranges a marriage for Layla against her wishes; showing that he still embraces all the male privilege that such a tradition provides.

Also interesting is how this film points out the differences between patriarchy and masculinity. Layla’s mother Jalila (Ruba Blal) chides Suliman for always doing things because ‘he had to’, and almost never asserting himself among his peers. All he could do is to impose his will on his less powerful women in his family.

The direction of this movie is great and immersive. The house Layla lives in feels very real and seem to have its own personality. Even a bunch of laundry seem to have its own arc!

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