Desert Brides

2008 | Israel, USA | color | 90 min

Arabic, Hebrew
Film Still Image
African / North African,
African American,
Human Rights and Justice,
Israel Diversity,
Israeli Diversity,
Sex & the Jewish Body,
Social Justice & Human Rights,
Social Justice & Human Rights,

Archive Details

Screened at SFJFF 2009

In the city of Rahat in the Negev Desert, seductively festive wedding images become a portal to women’s struggles with polygamy; close-ups hint at the realities of becoming a first wife, second wife or lover in Bedouin culture. Through wedding photographer Mariam Al-Quader’s eyes, Desert Brides (Best Film, Doc Aviv Festival 2008) reveals rare emotional spaces of women who must compete for value and status relative to the desires of men. There is Miriam Al-Nimer, a strong and independent divorcee, who refuses to become a second wife, yet has fallen in love with a married man. First wife Aliya endures in silence while her heart breaks as her husband diverts time, attention and resources (slaughtered lambs) away from her and their children to Al-Nimer. Meanwhile, the older-generation men passionately endorse polygamy to Al-Quader’s husband, who simultaneously refuses to allow his daughter to marry someone she loves. One third of Bedouin women live in polygamous households fueled by a relentless drive back to religion for minority survival in the larger Israeli culture. Displacement, tradition and survival remain colliding forces for women and children.
—Elsa E’der


Ada Ushpiz
Ada Ushpiz
Danor Glazer
Ron Goldman
Co-presented by
Bay Area Women in Film & Media and Women's Film Festival
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