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Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) and Massoud Behrani (Ben Kingsley) are in a
desperate struggle over ownership of a house in the dramatic thriller "HoUse of
Sand and Fog."
down more than 130 directors, Dubus
said in a telephone interview. "I didn't
feel that a story with this kind of dark-
ness would get out of Hollywood
alive," he said. 'And Vadim had an
additional strike against him: He was a
Undaunted, Perelman phoned
Dubus and, over the course of 90
minutes, recounted his life story.
Dubus, who had also grown up poor,
with a single mother, identified with
the director. Intuitively, he felt
Perelman wasn't going to "reduce the
story into a digestible, Big Mac ver-
sion of the book," he said.
The film, co-written by Perelman with
Shawn Lawrence Otto, closely follows
the novers_tragic trajectory Newsweek
recently noted that while it "is one of
the most impressive debuts since
American Beauty, it may be just too
bleak [to earn an Oscar nomination]."
Perelman — who hopes to adapt
Jerzy Kosinski's Holocaust novel, The
Painted Bird — believes that melodra-
ma has purpose. He cited how reading
tragic novels helped him endure diffi-
culties in Rome and beyond.
"I've seen death and I've seen catas-
trophe, so I know how such stories
can help people," he said. "It's some-
thing the audience can experience vic-
ariously so they may live through their
own tragedies gracefully." ❑
WITH THIS COUPON
mother took advantage of the Soviet
Union's then-permissive Jewish immi-
gration policy and applied for exit visas.
"It felt very Holocaust-like," he
recalled of the train journey west.
"That whole mass movement of Jews,
with all their Cr—, fearful and not
knowing where they were going."
As they traveled from Vienna to
Rome, he emotionally and financially
supported his mother, who was as
shell-shocked as the fictional Nadi.
Books were his only companions as he
worked a series of odd jobs, sleeping
on park benches when he missed the
last bus home.
But when his mother married a man
he despised after they settled in
Edmonton, Canada, he moved out,
left school and joined a gang of
teenagers who "broke into houses and
robbed places," he said.
A night in jail convinced Perelman
to go straight four years later; he
promptly earned his GED and
enrolled at the University of Alberta,
where a film appreciation class
changed his life his sophomore year.
The epiphany came as he viewed a
documentary on the making of
Norman Jewison's Fiddler on the Roof
"I saw the director creating his own
little world and I realized I wanted to
do that," he said. "I walked out of that
classroom as huge snowflakes were
falling and I thought, `I know what I
want to do with my life.'"
He didn't attempt his first feature
film, however, until he discovered Fog
in 1999; securing the rights wasn't easy.
The author had already turned
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aisicie SotAtIlfielc! Plozo, Next to Fat•rner. Jock
House of Sand and Fog, rated R,
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