AmreekaNational Geographic is excited to be releasing Amreeka on September 4.

The film tells the heartwarming story of Muna, a Palestinian single mother who comes to live in small town America with her teenage son.

It 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.

Told with heartfelt humour by writer-director Cherien Dabis in her feature film debut, Amreeka is a universal journey into the lives of a family of immigrants and first-generation teenagers caught between their heritage and the new world in which they now live and the bittersweet search for a place to call home.

Amreeka 2Amreeka recalls Dabis’s family’s memories of their lives in rural America during the first Iraq War.  The film stars Haifa-trained actress Nisreen Faour as Muna, and Melkar Muallen plays her 16-year-old son, Fadi.  Also in the cast are Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, Yussef Abu-Warda and Joseph Ziegler.  Written and directed by Cherien Dabis, the film was produced by Christina Piovesan and Paul Barkin. 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. It made its debut internationally in Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Preview the film here.

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  1. UPDATE:

    A West Bank Family, Making A Home In ‘Amreeka’
    Amreeka is the Arabic word for America. The movie of that title — a success at Sundance, and winner of the coveted critics’ prize at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes — opens on the West Bank, where Muna, a divorced Palestinian woman, works at a bank and lives with a difficult mother who doesn’t hesitate to criticize her weight.

    It’s a comfortable middle-class existence — how often do we see that side of Palestinian life? — but when a U.S. Green Card unexpectedly comes through for Muna (Nisreen Faour) and her 16-year-old son Fadi (Melkar Muallem), they end up making their uncertain way through U.S. Customs, where an agent’s casual query of “Occupation?” elicits an unexpectedly funny response.

    Muna and her son end up staying with her sister Raghda (the great Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass), who’s been living in suburban Illinois. Circumstances there put Muna in desperate need of work of any kind — but despite her experience, no local bank wants to hire her. The only job she can get is in fast food.

    As Muna’s adventures at White Castle (and the supermarket) unfold, Amreeka balances a serious eye with a feeling for warm and affectionate human comedy. Writer-director Cherien Dabis grew up in the Midwest, the daughter of a Palestinian father and a Jordanian mother, and that background has helped her understand that immigration sagas are at once the saddest, the happiest and the most quintessentially American of stories.

    Amreeka moves back and forth between what happens to Muna in her life and the difficulties her son faces in his. America is more than they bargained for, as it always is, and while this film allows problems to recede, it does not glibly insist they’ve gone away.

    It is true, as a character says, that “a tree pulled out by its roots and placed elsewhere, it doesn’t grow.” What Dabis and her big-hearted film dare to suggest is that if anyone can turn that situation around, it’s Muna.


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