[INTERVIEW] Elite Zexer, director of Storm sandy

For his first feature film, the filmmaker israeli Elite Zexer is a tribute to the bedouin population. People she has observed and with whom she has lived for years. It took a decade to understand their culture. A decade to understand what movie she wanted to do and that was to represent sand Storm. With it, you listen closely to his film, from its birth to its final outcome. A work which is evident in its form, and at the same time worn by characters that are more complex than they seem…

Our review of Storm sandy by Elite Zexer

 

This is your first feature film after several shorts, and it will have asked you a lot of time.

Yes I had the desire to make this film for ten years. It started when my mother, who is a photographer, had to go in a bedouin village, hitherto unknown. It had to capture the changes that were going to the village after its recognition. She has spent so much time there with my father and my sister we joined. In this village, a young girl was going to be the first to go to university. But as she met a boy from another village, his parents have forbidden to return to the university and told him to marry someone from the village. On the evening of the wedding, we were me and my mother with her in her room, awaiting the arrival of this man that she had never seen. Outside the people were partying. Then she turned around and told us, that for his daughter, things would be different. This is the sentence that threw me.

 

But why did you put ten years to complete ?

I think that when one wants to speak of a culture that is not ours, it is necessary to be careful. It is necessary to first understand it, know enough to stay realistic. Suddenly I was even hard to talk to people about this project since I hadn’t yet quite mastered enough about it according to me. After doing my research, I first wanted to do tests through the short film. So I made a film about the bedouin. After having presented to the people of the village that I filmed, they have not stopped asking me when I was going to come back to do another longer film. So I understood that I mastered enough of this culture to launch myself into the writing of the feature film. But the script I have still asked for five years. Because I wanted to the end to understand this people, I needed their opinion more than mine.

 

You are so gone in several villages ?

Yes. It was a succession of small trips in fact. I was going to, the time of a weekend, living in a village to collect impressions of people, to get to know them, and then I stayed to go to a different place. And each new place I discovered new things, this is what pushed me to continue my research again and again.

 

Can we therefore say that the film is partly based on a true story ?

In fact, in ten years, I have met many other girls with more or less the same story as the first. The movie is rather a combination of stories that I have been told or that I have seen. But even beyond the young girl. The character of the father, for example, is strongly inspired by a man I met, and I was immensely touched. His life is even more difficult that what we see in the film. It is a good father of a family, who loves her and wants to give everything to his family. And then there was a moment of rupture with the village, and he almost lost everything. So in the end, all the characters have a part of true history. And it is for this that the village in which takes place the film is not named. Because I don’t show something specific to a place, I try ultimately to be more general, I would say even more universal.

Elite Zexer – Storm sandy : “In this system, we can only try to do the best you can” Click To Tweet

Universal in your way to show future generations that also oppose.

There are three generations of women in the film with the daughter, the mother and the grandmother. Each asks different things and think differently. But this is not so much to the generations who oppose, rather, who have different opinions. And it is not limited so much to be modern or traditional, rather to see that the world is complicated. If we take the father for example, he really tries to be modern, but he must face his responsibilities, that come from its culture. The mother is going to change in the middle of the movie, the girl’s going to realize the consequences of his actions on his surroundings, but in the end they are all people stuck in a system. And in this system, we can only try to do the best.

 

It is more this idea of system, in which we would be stuck, which is universal.

Yes, that’s it. I was able to present the film in different countries, the United States, Germany, and India, but also in south Korea. And everywhere people were telling me that, in the background, what I was showing was similar to what they were. In India, for example, many men came to tell me : “but it’s the same here ! “.

 

To return to the characters, you speak of evolution. And, precisely, the girl seems to be, during the movie, find out who are actually his parents.

In fact, it is simply that she is growing up. We still admire his parents until one day we realize that they are not perfect, they are human. Like many, she has a very high opinion of his father and thinks he can do everything for her. Except that things do not go like that. She finally sees reality, how is the adult world.

 

Finally, you go past quite quickly the question of traditions including arranged marriage, of which you had witnessed ten years ago, for you to consider the links between parents and children.

This is what is most important in the movie according to me. This dynamic that exists in relationships between parents and children. But it all comes back to the question of universality. Because I really wanted that people don’t have the feeling of being away from these characters under the pretext that it is a different culture. It is just the opposite because the family ties are the same. So yes, I’m really focused on the emotion between the characters and their connection between them.

 

There is a very special bond that is forming between mother and daughter. This is reflected in your way of leaving of the daughter, and then follow the mother, and make them join.

There is also the youngest child that navigates around and over which are raised at the end. It took me a lot of time, to write the scenario, to get that fluidity. In fact I tried to let the characters live, and at a time, to find a point of connection. That is why, in editing I have followed the script to the letter, it was not necessary to make change in terms of chronological order.

 

Even though you do not use music additional. It really has this special feeling of being in a present moment.

To tell the truth it has recorded sounds of the village that it was used as a soundtrack. We don’t necessarily realize it, but there are noises in the surroundings that allow them to produce a certain emotion, as would a music. For example there was during the filming of a car that was making an appalling noise. I wanted to include it in the film at moments where I wanted to found this feeling. A way of showing life as it is, without artifice, and to insist on the solitude of these villagers. Because even if a road is located a few meters from where we shot, and that dozens of cars pass every day, no one stops to discover this people but very welcoming.

Remarks collected by Pierre Siclier

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