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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Amreeka

Few films celebrate the concept of American being a land of opportunity like director Cherien Dabis’ heartfelt new film, Amreeka. It’s the story of a Palestinian divorcee named Muna Farah (Nisreen Faour) who decides to leave her home in the West Bank to try to build a better life for her and her son with relatives living in the United States. Of course, the America Muna’s always heard about and the realities of life in small town Illinois are worlds apart in every way imaginable. Each day brings a new challenge for Muna to face, from the simple act of shopping in an American grocery store to the struggle to find work to support herself and her son. The story takes place in the early days of the Iraqi War, a time when Americans, for the most part, were very gung ho about what they had been told by politicians was their destiny to bring peace to the Middle East. Although she has no connection to the war whatsoever, just the fact that she is an Arab in America at this time puts Muna and her son in a lot of potentially dangerous situations. Sometimes it’s just the way people look at her in a store, sometimes it’s a more blatant act such as her son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) being called a terrorist in school. All of it shows the ugly side of America and it takes a strong person to stand up against it all and fight for at least a chance at a better life, and Dabis couldn’t have picked a better actress to be that person in her movie than Nisreen Faour.

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