Israeli Movie Wins Foreign Film Prize at Sundance

Sand Storm (Sufat chol), the first feature by Israeli director Elite Zexer, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, over the weekend.

The film—about Bedouin traditions in the face of modernity—was bought and will be distributed by Beta Cinema. The film was heavily praised by critics. “This emotionally intelligent first feature offers a sympathetic but clear-eyed look at the tangled skein of inequalities that entrap women (and the men they love and resent) in a Bedouin village stranded between modernization and anachronistic patriarchy,” said a review in Variety. New York magazine called it “a lovely, deeply affecting film.”

Zexer, who also wrote the script, based the film’s story on her decade-long friendships with a group of women in Israel’s Bedouin communities. Zexer’s 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.

“Oh my god, I‘m so nervous I’m shaking,” she said upon receiving the award. “I feel it’s been such a week of talking and talking and now that I have to say something, I’m speechless. I’m so happy it premiered here. I’m sorry my crew had to go home and not experience this with me. I couldn’t have done this without them. I want to thank my producers who are not my producers but my family.”

At previous Sundance festivals, Dror Shaul’s Sweet Mud won the World Cinema Jury Prize Dramatic in 2007, and Erez Kav-El’s screenplay for Restoration won the World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting Award in 2011. “As filmmakers who have no chance to compete with Hollywood’s power and film marketing, Sundance is the ultimate answer and a wonderful opportunity to expose our works to the world,” Kav-El said after winning his award.

(via Israel21c)

[Photo: Glimpses into Sand Storm / Vimeo ]