Awhile back, I happened to be watching IFC and caught the tail end of the Spirit Awards for independent films. As winners were announced, I wrote down numerous titles that looked of interest. When it got to the best actress category, I was intrigued by a scene from a movie I had never heard of, Amreeka. I also, from that small clip, could see why the lead actress, Nisreen Faour, was nominated. She didn’t win, but I came away with a movie I was dying to see.
Amreeka tells the story of a Palestinian woman, Muna and her teenage son Fadi, who win a green card lottery and are able to immigrate to America (Amreeka) and live with her sister, doctor brother-in-law and 3 daughters, in a suburb of Chicago. Leaving behind the violence of their homeland, Muna hopes to create a better life for her son and herself. unfortunately, unbeknownst to her, Muna has a box of cookies confiscated from her at customs. Fadi notices but doesn’t realize their life savings is in that box for safe keeping. Once here in the States, Muna, a qualified banker in her homeland, finds no one will hire her and ends up taking a job at White Castle, letting her family believe she works at an adjacent bank.
What follows is a touching, sad, sometimes frustrating and eye-opening movie experience, which left me saying “I just saw my favorite movie of the year” . The acting was wonderful, perhaps aided by the fact that stars are fairly unknown, giving it a realistic non-hollywood feel. In addition to nominations for several Spirit Awards, it was nominated for other awards such as Cannes and Sundance, for film, acting, screenplay and directing.
If you would like to see this hidden gem of a film, it is available to be sent to Fountaindale from one of the owning libraries our PrairieCat catalog consortium. Just follow this link to place a hold. There is also a book titled “A Country Called Amreeka” by Alia Malek, if you would like to know more about the Arab experience in the US.