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Review of Award Winning Israeli Film Sand Storm Set in Bedouin Village On Netflix-Thumbs Up !

by Rhonda Spivak, Sept 2, 2017

Editor's Pick: Award Winning Israeli Film Sand Storm  Set in Bedouin Village on Netflix is Really Worth Seeing 
The 2016 Israeli Film Sand Storm, (Hebrew???? ???‎ Sufat Chol) ,directed by Elite Zexer, which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic section at  the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, is worth seeing. The film, which also won  Best Film Award at the Ophir Awards, can be viewed on Netflix, and I found it held my interest from beginning to end.
set in a Bedouin village,in Southern Israel,the film is a critique on the oppression of women in Bedouin society, where bigamy is common.The film opens with a husband Suliman is about to take a much younger second wife and his first wife, Jalila, is obliged to stage the wedding celebration.
I should mention that one of the reasons that this film resonated with me so strongly is that when I worked as a lawyer at the Association of Civil Rights  in Jerusalem many moons ago in 1996, I remember receiving a call from a Bedouin man who had married a second wife, and I had to explain to him that under the laws of the State of Israel, bigamy was forbidden.  He refused to accept this. And I learned that that despite the law, bigamy remains the norm in Bedouin society, and this has not changed. To the best of my knowledge, the Israeli authorities do not crack down on the Bedouin for violating this law, essentially giving them autonomy to continue their bigamous tradition.
In the film,Suliman's first wife Jalila appears to  shows no outward resentment at the traditional imposition of not only having to share her husband with a much younger woman, but having to welcome the younger woman with open arms. When Suliman returns from his honeymoon he begins to set up a separate household for his newest bride, which is much better furnished and in far better condition than the household which Jalila lives in. In fact we see that Jalila and her daughters live in abject poverty, while the new bride 's conditions are far better. One of the reasons that Suliman takes another  bride is that he has not been able to produce any male children with Jalila, and in the Bedouin  society it is the men who count. 
The film shows that in some superficial ways, Bedouin society has modernized in that they use cell phones and Suleiman lets his teenage daughter, Layla, drive. But, fundamentally, the film's message is  that traditional Bedouin society has not modernized. 
In the film,the daughter Layla is preoccupied with a secret, strictly forbidden, love affair with a boy from school who is not from her tribe,  which her mother finds about . The relationship it  violates two cultural rules: women are not supposed to have relationships with men they’re not related to, and they’re expected to marry within their tribe, often i
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.