Brothers Muayad and Rami Alayan went through numerous hardships in order to bring their film The Reports on Sarah and Saleem to the light. Set in Jerusalem, the film revolves around Sarah and Saleem as they enter into a relationship out of wedlock, which triggers a dangerous game between those who hold the power and those who don’t.
One of the difficulties the team faced during filming in the summer of 2017, were the clashes that broke out in the streets of the city surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque and the old town, which forced them to change locations more than once. Also, many of the crew members were unable to cross the Israeli border crossing between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Just as the surrounding environment was the reason why the Alayan brothers made this film about a controversial story; the story is also based on real events that the director witnessed as a teenager working between the eastern and the western sides of the city of Jerusalem. That is in addition to the reality of occupation and racial discrimination and the inequality in legal rights faced by the Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem. As is the reality of life under occupation, the Israeli army raided the city of Bethlehem during filming and halted production for several long hours. The occupation remains the biggest obstacle hindering the film industry in Palestine, but the director was supported by the people of his city and his family and friends from inside and outside the artistic community to complete the production despite the difficulties.
However, it seems that every arduous road yields good results in the end as the film won nine international awards and has participated in more than 50 festivals around the world so far, representing the State of Palestine, starting with its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay in the festival's Official Competition (Hivos Tiger), in addition to the Audience Award (Hubert Bals).
The film also won the Best Film Award and Best Actress Award at the Durban International Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at the Titanic International Film Festival in Hungary, the Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the Boston Palestine Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Arab Film Festival.
For the first time in the Arab world, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem by director Muayad Alayan will be released in Cinema Akil in the UAE for two weeks, starting Friday, 14 June. The film is expected to be released soon in a number of UAE theaters.