The Reports on Sarah and Saleem
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
While centred on the adulterous affair between a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is not a tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet-style. To start with, there is no love in the equation: Sarah and Saleem are consenting adults who are in it exclusively for the sex. The moment they take their relationship outside the delivery van where they conduct their business, their arrangement falls apart. She is married to an Israeli colonel; he smuggles goods into occupied territories. Soon their behaviour catches the attention of the authorities on both sides. Is a happy ending even in the realm of possibility?
The Reports on Sarah and Saleem stands apart because it focuses on failing institutions—marriage, religion, state-security apparatuses—in a gimlet-eyed, unsentimental way. Director Muayad Alayan portrays these institutions and his compelling lead characters warts and all. Set in Jerusalem, the film serves as a state-of-the-union report for a divided city while also isolating male toxicity as a primordial element in the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"Engrossing… This frequently taut psychosocial drama with political-thriller elements deftly conveys the tensions, both physical and mental, between West and East Jerusalem."—Jay Weissberg, Variety
Audience Award, Rotterdam 18; Grand Jury Prize, Seattle 18