The serious subject of forced female circumcision becomes the stuff of predictable melodrama in "God's Sandbox," which plays as much like a sun-baked edition of "Red Shoe Diaries" gone horribly wrong as the social protest item makers intended.

The serious subject of forced female circumcision becomes the stuff of predictable melodrama in “God’s Sandbox,” which plays as much like a sun-baked edition of “Red Shoe Diaries” gone horribly wrong as the social protest item makers intended. Theatrical prospects are dim, though fest dates and TV buys could drift in.

Middle-aged author Liz (Razia Israeli) tracks runaway daughter Rachel (Orly Perel) to a Sinai beachfront hangout, where the girl is passing the time with Bedouin bartender b.f. Mustafa (Sami Samir). To entertain them, he tells a childhood tale of sexy, free-spirited Western tourist Leila (Meital Dohan), whose passionate affair with, and ultimate marriage to, dashing Bedouin sheik’s son Najim (Juliano Merr) leads to their banishment and her eventual circumcision. That Liz is Leila won’t be a bulletin to auds; the “why” of it is more elusive. Tech credits are competent, with pair of primitive surgical procedures handled with visual discretion but plenty of screaming. Pic won best film, director and screenplay prizes at the recent inaugural Manchester Film Festival in Vermont.

God's Sandbox

Israel

Production

An Open Doors Films production. (International sales: Open Doors Films, Tel Aviv.) Produced by Yoav Halevy. Directed by Doron Eran. Screenplay, Yoav Halevy, Hanita Halevy, based on the novel "Serus" by Dr. Dorit Zilberman.

Crew

Camera (color), Claudio Steinberg; editor, Shimon Spector; music, Arik Rudich; art directors, Raya Brukental, Maya Zack. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Another View), July 9, 2002. (Also in Manchester Film Festival, Vermont.) Running time: 79 MIN.

With

Juliano Merr, Razia Israeli, Meital Dohan, Orly Perel, Sami Samir. Hebrew, English, Arabic dialogue.
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