Amreeka

Amreeka

Director: Cherien Dabis

Cast: Cherien Dabis, Nisreen Faour, Melkar Muallem, Hiam Abbass

     
 
A Palestinian single mother and her son resettle in the American Midwest with bittersweet results, in first-time director Cherien Dabis' gentle fish-out-of-water comedy drama Amreeka. Nisreen Faour stars as divorcée Mouna, a resident of the West Bank who works as a local bank manager while raising her 16-year-old son, Fadi (Melkar

Overview

A Palestinian single mother and her son resettle in the American Midwest with bittersweet results, in first-time director Cherien Dabis' gentle fish-out-of-water comedy drama Amreeka. Nisreen Faour stars as divorcée Mouna, a resident of the West Bank who works as a local bank manager while raising her 16-year-old son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem), on the side. Each day, the two must put their lives in jeopardy by driving through potentially lethal Middle Eastern checkpoints to accomplish their daily business, but their situation changes dramatically when Mouna finally succeeds at getting a green card. The two fly from Jerusalem to Chicago, but get a bitter taste of the reality behind the American dream when the customs department claims the money that Mouna wrapped in a cookie tin, leaving her penniless. The nascent immigrants promptly move in with Mouna's sister, Raghda (Hiam Abbass of Lemon Tree), and her family, and Mouna sets about trying to find a bank job in the U.S. that is equivalent to her old position at home; unfortunately, this proves impossible and she ends up serving "sliders" at a White Castle fast food franchise and earning minimum wage. Meanwhile, Fadi begins attending a local high school and runs headfirst into not-so-subtle racism and the imminent threat of nativistic violence.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
In the basement of a suburban Illinois home, a recently immigrated Palestinian teenager tells his mother that living in America "sucks." Her response? "Every place sucks." Amreeka, written and directed by Cherien Dabis, is a stark reminder that life is hard for most people in the world, and would be regardless of where they lived. Even when theoretically improving their circumstances, they are often just exchanging a greater evil for a lesser one. It's especially so for these two Palestinians, perennial outsiders, who have a telling miscommunication with a U.S. immigration officer regarding the terms "country of origin" and "occupation." In following the mother, Muna (Nisreen Faour), and the son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem), from their lives in the West Bank to their lives in the American Midwest, Dabis contributes to a growing number of smart independent films that examine the prototypical immigrant experience in 21st century America. She sets the film in the days following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which further complicated the prospects not only for recent Arab immigrants, but for those who had been stateside for years. But neither is it Dabis' intention to depress us. The film has numerous moments of whimsy, from sources as diverse as Muna's kvetching mother back in the West Bank, to Muna's blue-haired co-worker at White Castle, to Muna herself, whose attempts to earn money for her son demonstrate a determination that's both funny and touching. If anything, one might accuse Dabis of wrapping things up too cleanly. Amreeka ends with a scene of harmonious interracial celebration that seems almost naïve given what's come before, not to mention abrupt in its suddenness. But Dabis' point seems to be this: when people are hoping against hope to better their lives, they can't afford not to believe in unlikely happy endings.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/12/2010
UPC:
0829567066621
Original Release:
2009
Rating:
PG-13
Source:
Virgil Films
Region Code:
0
Time:
1:36:00

Special Features

"Make A Wish" - a short film from director Cherien Dabis; Deleted scenes; Outakes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Nisreen Faour Muna Farah
Melkar Muallem Fadi Farah
Hiam Abbass Raghda Halaby
Yussuf Abu-Warda Nabeel Halaby
Alia Shawkat Salma Halaby
Joseph Ziegler Mr. Novatski
Amer Hlehel Samer
Selena Haddad Lamis Halaby
Jenna Kawar Rana Halaby
Suheila Muallem Jamileh
Brodie Sanderson Matt
Andrew Sannie James
Daniel Boiteau Mike
Jeff Sutton Jason
Miriam Smith Bank Employee
Glen Thompson Nelson
Mike O'Brien Bank Manager

Technical Credits
Cherien Dabis Director,Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Al-Zain Al-Sabah Co-producer
Paul Barkin Producer
Doug Bernheim Musical Direction/Supervision
Brock Capell Sound Mixer
Tobias Datum Cinematographer
Patricia Henderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Liz Jarvis Co-producer
Gregory Keever Executive Producer
Adrian Leroux Production Designer
Ellyn Long Marshall Casting
Marie E. Nelson Casting
Christina Piovesan Producer
Keith Reamer Editor
Kareem Roustom Score Composer
Alicia Sams Executive Producer
David Till Production Manager

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Amreeka
1. West Bank [7:45]
2. Lottery [9:46]
3. Customs [9:38]
4. A Fresh Start [13:00]
5. Job Hunting [7:09]
6. Stereotypes [10:28]
7. Fights and Friends [9:07]
8. Spills [10:04]
9. Further Investigation [5:34]
10. Stand Tall [2:44]
11. Drive Through [6:11]
12. Credits [4:59]

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