LOS ANGELES (March 18, 2009)—National Geographic Entertainment has acquired and will distribute “Amreeka,” Cherien Dabis’ comedy hit that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film is the opening night selection for New Directors/New Films 2009, a co-presentation of The Museum of Modern Art and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, in New York on Wednesday, March 25. A fall 2009 release is planned.
“Amreeka,” which charmed both critics and audiences at Sundance, tells the adventures of Muna, an indomitable immigrant Palestinian single mother, who dreams of a new life for herself and Fadi, her teenage son, in the promised land of small town Illinois. In America, as her son navigates high school hallways the way he used to move through West Bank military checkpoints, the resourceful Muna scrambles together an upwardly mobile new life, cooking up falafel burgers as well as the usual hamburgers at the local White Castle.
Nisreen Faour stars as Muna, and Melkar Muallem plays her 16-year-old son. Also in the cast are Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, Yussef Abu-Warda and Joseph Ziegler.
“Amreeka,” written and directed by Dabis, was produced by Christina Piovesan and Paul Barkin. Dabis, Alicia Sams and Greg Keever were executive producers; Liz Jarvis and Al-Zain Al-Sabah were co-producers.
“Amreeka” is an E1 Entertainment (Canada)/Levantine Entertainment (U.S) presentation in association with Rotana Studios and Showtime Arabia, of a First Generation Films, Alcina Pictures, Buffalo Gal Pictures (Canada)/Eagle Vision Media Group (Kuwait) production.
Earlier in her career Dabis received a National Geographic All Roads Film Festival Project Seed Grant for her short film “Make a Wish,” which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
National Geographic Entertainment includes National Geographic Films (NGF), which co-presented the 2005 Academy Award-winning “March of the Penguins” and the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” and National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV), which released domestically and internationally, to critical acclaim, the 3-D concert film “U2 3D” in 2008. NGCV set giant-screen box office records with “Mysteries of Egypt” and recently with “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.” Adam Leipzig is president of NGF, Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV and Mark Katz is president of distribution for NGCV.
Leipzig said, “‘Amreeka’ is a great culture clash comedy and with it Cherien Dabis has announced herself as one of the great new talents in film. It is funny and also moving in its depiction of the hectic work it takes to attain the American dream. This international story is a perfect fit for National Geographic as we aspire to inspire people to care about our world. Since Cherien received one of the first National Geographic All Roads grants, working with her on ‘Amreeka’ is especially exciting.”
“National Geographic helped launch my career with its early support of my short film ‘Make a Wish,’ so I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with the organization again,” said Dabis. “While ‘Amreeka’ is a very personal film, it’s a universal story about family, the sacrifices we make for those we love and the often elusive search for belonging. I have no doubt that we’ve found the right home for it.”
Rena Ronson and Jerome Duboz of William Morris Independent negotiated the sale on behalf of E1 Entertainment International, headed by Charlotte Mickie, which holds the film’s international rights. Tiffany Leclere and Kattie Evans handled negotiations for NGE.
About National Geographic Entertainment
National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) combines into a single operating group National Geographic’s Cinema Ventures, Films, Kids Entertainment, Home Entertainment and Music & Radio. NGE is part of National Geographic Global Media, bringing together all of National Geographic’s editorial platforms to streamline collaboration and further support the Society’s mission. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” National Geographic works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 325 million people worldwide each month through magazines, books, digital media, television, radio, music and film. It funds more than 250 scientific research, exploration and conservation projects each year and supports an education program combating geography illiteracy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.