From the Berlinale the Black and Paper interview with Director Elite Zexer and Actor Haitham Omari.
What were the challenges of making this film and as a director and an actor?
My main challenge as a director was making a film about a culture that was not mine. I think that is why it took so long to make it. There were a lot of steps along the way. It took me years to get the script the right, 4 years of writing and rewriting. I made a short film in the interim.
Omari: I am a news cameraman. I was close to the Bedouins in their villages but I wanted to understand them from the inside. At times in the film you like my character and then there were times when you hated him.
Why did you want to shoot a film on the Bedouins?
My mother has been shooting Bedouin women for 10 years. She became friends with them. I started going with her, one evening I went to an event similar to the one in my film. That was about 8 years ago that started the process of making the film.
Where did the title come from?
Sandstorm refers to an internal storm with the characters and of course in the desert.
It was originally a working title. After winning the Locarno Film Festival we decided to keep the title.
Were there script changes after the casting?
The main changes were made to the Layla character. I met Lamas but thought she was wrong for the part. Layla is shy while Lamas is strong and outgoing. The auditions were ongoing for months, meeting, talking. Lamas had something. In the end we mutually changed our approached to the character. I adapted the script with her in mind.
Was there one village used in the location?
No, there were different villages used for the production, one for the family house, the second wife’s house, and another for the celebration.
Is the ending of the film a message of hope?
No comment (laughing). I wanted to end the film with the audience thinking of what will happen to the next generation.
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