Before the advent of drug traffickers and serial killers, films often focused on conflicts over real estate. Think of the red dirt of Tara in Gone With The Wind, the stately mansion in The Magnificent Ambersons or the contested open plains in Shane. Property is also the focal point of House of Sand and Fog, based on the 1999 novel by Andre Dubus III. The film is directed and co-written by first-timer Vadim Perelman, who emigrated from Russia to Canada when he was a teenager. The immigrant past is significant, since the movie is in many ways a story of immigrants and how their concept of the American dream can go awry.