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HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG

About The Production
Andre Dubus III's book House of Sand and Fog was first published in 1999, telling the story of two desperate people—Massoud Amir Behrani, a once powerful and influential man in his native Iran reduced to menial jobs in the United States, and Kathy Nicolo, a recovering drug addict, with nowhere to turn—and their battle for ownership of a house, which threatens to destroy both of them.

The novel became an immediate sensation with book critics who praised its power and emotion, and it was also a Finalist for the prestigious National Book Award. Those early accolades propelled the book to a bestseller, but when Oprah Winfrey selected it for her Book Club, bringing Andre Dubus III on as a guest on her show, the novel became a runaway hit, topping all of the major bestseller lists.

Vadim Perelman, then a successful commercial director, was far from Hollywood when he first saw the book House of Sand and Fog on a bookrack at the Rome airport. He read it as he crossed the Atlantic, and by the time he landed, he knew his career had been set on a different course. "I knew I needed to tell this story,” he remembers. "It is a story about loneliness and of being cast out…about being an immigrant in a new country and, with regard to Kathy, about feeling like an immigrant in your own country. Those are themes that are primal and universal. Who could not relate to some aspect of that?”

Perelman can relate very personally to the immigrant experience. When he was in his teens, he and his mother left their home in the former Soviet Union behind. They lived hand-to-mouth in Vienna and Rome, before settling in Canada where they had to build a new life. Perelman would eventually cultivate a successful career in America as a commercial director, but those formative years gave him a keen understanding of Behrani's pursuit of the American Dream and Kathy's despair at having lost it.

It was that innate understanding of the book's subject matter that convinced its author to award Perelman the film rights, despite his inexperience as a film director. Dubus recalls, "I had spoken to several people who were attracted to different elements of the story. When I spoke to Vadim, I sensed he understood the deeper resonance of the story…in some ways better than I did. He actually said things about the book that made me say, ‘That's a good point. You're right about that.' Who knew?” he laughs. "He understood the importance of getting across the immigrant experience. I really felt he was going to be loyal to the story in its true form.”

"I remember being very passionate about telling the story,” Perelman says. "It propels you forward. You might have a hint of where it's going, but I don't think you are ever prepared for how it is going to end, and that's the incredible power of this story.”

When Perelman sent Dubus the final draft of the screenplay, the author notes, "I loved it. It is so loyal to the book, how could I not love it? It was very impressive, and even I was moved by it, so I just knew I had made the right choice with Vadim.”

Producer Michael London was equally impressed with the screenplay. "You don't often read a script that makes you say, ‘I have to produce this movie,'” he states. "I remember that by the time I put it down, I felt—like many of the people who ultimately took part in the movie—compelled to raise my hand and say, ‘I need to be involved in this.' Every bone in my body was deeply affected by the story.”

London offers, "I think what the two central characters are after is something very fundamental: a home—literally a house and also figuratively a place to live and have a family—which Kathy has lost and Behrani is trying to hold on to. The thing these people are battling over is not cerebral, it's not abstract, it's very personal. Another thing I found so rich about the story is that you care about both of these people. There is no clear right and wrong. You believe that<

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