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Amreeka

Directed by Cherien Dabis (E1 Entertainment)

First-time filmmaker Cherien Dabis draws from personal experience to create the pre-Gulf War world of Muna, a divorced Palestinian bank employee, and her teenage son Fadi, who move from Bethlehem to America, the land of xenophobia and White Castle burgers. Muna retains a cheery, optimistic spirit, despite many humiliations, claustrophobic living arrangements and lack of financial security. Fadi, deemed "Osama" by ignorant students, gets a crash course in American teenage life and conflict by cousin Sama (Arrested Development's charmer Alia Shawkat). Good-natured and humourous, Amreeka's important message of immigrant experience comes wrapped in a sitcom package, and sadly, serious nuances are lost in the predictability of the plot. –Sue Carter Flinn

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