The personal is political: affair of the heart plays with fire on many fronts

At the centre of The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is the story of an affair. The most important thing about this relationship, says director Muayad Alayan, is its location. It takes place in Jerusalem, and that defines it more than anything else. “This affair could happen anywhere else in the world and it would not have the same effect.”

Sarah (Sivane Kretchner) is an Israeli woman, married to an army colonel, who runs a cafe in West Jerusalem. Saleem (Adeeb Safadi), a Palestinian from the east of the city, is a delivery driver. His wife is pregnant with their first child.

When the fleeting relationship between Sarah and Saleem is accid­entally discovered, it is cast as something very different — first as a criminal connection, then as a secur­ity threat, a liaison with polit­ical repercussions and implications that turns lives upside down. An account of privilege becomes something more. Violence is never far away: the movie escalates into a thriller, a story of responsibility and accountability in which the stakes are very high.

Alayan works with his brother, Rami Musa Alayan: they developed the script together and his brother wrote the final version of the screenplay. The initial idea, Muayad Alayan says, grew out of his own experience.

Read the review by Philippa Hawker in The Australian.