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Homeowners mired in sand, fog

Commentary: Hollywood explores ethics of profit from property

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The Oscar-nominated film "House of Sand and Fog" typically is described as the story of an immigrant family's tragic experience of life in the United States. But the film, based on the synonymous book by Andre Dubus III, is equally a fictional account of the pain a house foreclosure inflicted on both a troubled woman who lost her home and a man who believed he could profit from her ill fortune. Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) and her brother inherited an ocean-view bungalow in San Francisco from their father. Nicolo, an unemployed recovering addict, loses the home through no fault of her own when a county tax assessor's error results in a foreclosure auction. "I miss my dad. He worked really hard for that house. It took him 30 years to pay it off, and it took me only eight months to screw it up," Nicolo wails. Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley), his wife Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and his teenaged son Esmail (Johnathan Ahdout) are Iranian immigrants to the United States. Behrani...