"Amreeka" a film by National Geographic, think Nat'l Geo films and you think documentary, but National Geographic seems to be expanding their film-making, as this is an entertainment film, based on recent historic events.
Cast members include, Nisreen Faour (plays Muna, the lead part), Hiam Abbass (Muna's sister Raghda, she has been in The Lemon Tree and The Syrian Bride) and Yssef Abu Warda (Muna's brother-in-law, a doctor).
Muna's life in the West Bank is filled with anxiety and grief - it takes 2 hours to travel one way to her job, due to the constant security checks crossing out of and into Bethlehem. Her son,Fadi dreams of going to school in America. Her husband has divorced her for a younger, skinnier woman, so when she bumps into her and then her ex, she makes the decision that should it be possible for her to travel to America she will take the chance. Her wildest dream comes true with a letter, inviting her and Fadi to come and stay with her sister Raghda in Indiana. Being naive, and not a world traveler, she innocently packs all her money in a tin, which is confiscated by the U.S. customs agents when she and Fadi land in Chicago. Not wanting her sister and brother-in-law to know this, she immediately embarks upon finding a job. Unfortunatley, their arrival in America coincides with the U.S. Forces storming Iraq (remember the television scenes of the statue of Saddam being brought down?), sentiment is highly against anyone of Middle Eastern background. Nabeel, Muna's brother-in-law, is losing many of his patients due to this, consequently Muna's family now faces economic problems of their own. On the school front, Fadi becomes a target of the anti- Middle Eastern prejudice, Fadi's school counselor befriends Muna, after he discovers her working at the local White Castle fast food place. The last scene in the film revolves around eating in a Middle Eastern restaurant, I could taste the hummus, and smell all the wonderful aromas - and the music left me dancing.
Writer-director, Cherien Dabis, uses family memories depicting what it was like to be in America those first days after the invasion of Iraq.
James and I seem to be watching many films that have a middle eastern tie to them, and the third with Hiam Abbass as part of the cast, and this was yet another enjoyable film.