MXDWN: Moe Alatawi On His Film ‘Within Sand’

“Saudi-Arabian director Moe Alatawi grew up in a world without cinema. The art form was banned in his country throughout his childhood. Alatawi, however, has still found the inspiration to create his feature film titled, Within Sand.


This film’s existence will have a big impact on Saudi culture, and hopes to appeal to Saudi audiences as well. It is the first film to be shot in Neom, according to Variety. Furthermore, it is produced by two women, Reem Alatawi and Jana Dahlawi.


When speaking with Variety reporter Nick Vivarelli, Alatawi stated, “I’d only shot in London or Europe before, so it was overwhelming at first. I remember on the first day of the shoot, the DP was very stressed. I was sitting with him trying to figure things out before doing the blocking. He looked at the place [the desert in Neom], and he was like: ‘It’s too big.’ And I realized this as well. So we were like, ‘OK, let’s make the first day of the shoot the easiest and do interiors in very controlled environment.’ We didn’t want to lose our minds in the desert, so to speak. But then things started to move forward quite fast. One of the main things that happened is that we had tried to storyboard everything, but it just didn’t work. So instead, we just focused on the protagonist. Luckily, the actor comes from a village in the north of Saudi and he was familiar with being in the desert. For him, it was normal. It wasn’t too big. And that made us feel OK. We just followed him, and decided to see what he felt as an actor. And that made us, in a sense, more focused.” The actor’s knowledge of the landscape will undoubtedly lead to a more realistic portrayal of the story’s plot. “

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