Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small town Illinois. In America, as her son navigates high school hallways the way he used to move through military checkpoints, the indomitable Muna scrambles together a new life cooking up falafel burgers as well as hamburgers at the local White Castle.
About the Director:
Amreeka is a film that writer/director Cherien Dabis very much needed to make. It’s a personal story that draws on her own memories of growing up with her Palestinian/Jordanian family in rural Ohio.
“My parents immigrated to the U.S. right before I was born. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in rural Ohio and Jordan. When people ask me where I’m from, it’s always a confusing question,” Dabis explains. “For most of my life I felt like I wasn’t American enough for the Americans, nor was I Arab enough for the Arabs. And as a Palestinian, I inherited my father’s quandary in not having a nation or a national identity, which only exacerbated my sense of not belonging anywhere. My own desire for a place to call home, a place where I belonged, was always a very big part of my identity.”
In Ohio, during the first Gulf War, Dabis’s family was ostracized. Dabis, who was 14 at the time, says, “We got death threats and the Secret Service even came to my high school to investigate a rumor that my 17-year-old sister threatened to kill the President.”
As Dabis’s family returned to Jordan regularly, she was able to see what was happening in the world from different perspectives. “In my travels to and from the Middle East, watching and reading news from different perspectives, from Arabic satellite to English news, I started to see how the media often made way for more conflict and misunderstanding, perpetuating stereotypes that affected me and my family in this small Ohio town.” Read the whole interview here.
Amreeka made its world premiere in dramatic competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and played as Opening Night of New Directors/New Films, a co-presentation of The Museum of Modern Art and The Film Society of Lincoln Center. "Amreeka" made its debut internationally in Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. The film has been nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards including Best Feature.