On Monday I unexpectedly ended up seeing the film Amreeka at The Grant Park theatre. I had heard good things about it, and was not disappointed.
It's about a Palestinian woman, Muna, who wins the green card lottery, and takes her son, Fadi to Illinois to live with her sister, Raghda. In America, she struggles to find work, and both her, her son, and her extended family face racism in the face of the Iraq war. The film takes a generally light hearted approach to some very serious subject matter, and it is something I appreciated. I think Hollywood too often portrays Arab individuals as stereotypes, most often as terrorists or suicide bombers. The film makes fun of this stereotype quite often, as the main characters are often accused of being both--and of course they are neither. They are normal people who just moved to a new country and are trying to adjust to a new life. I think Hollywood stereotypes play a huge role in people's perceptions of individuals and we forget that the roles Arab people are given in film is definitely not the role they fit in society, 99.999% of the time. It's hard for Middle Eastern actors to get work as "normal" characters, instead of extremists.
That being said, I just want to give a heads-up to people. The film is in both Arabic and English (though mostly in Arabic). I knew it was a Canadian film, and I assumed that after the characters came to America, the film would switch to English. I am, of course, okay with subtitled films (I stated in a previous entry that I love listening to other languages and picking out English words), but I know not everyone is. But along with the heads up is a bit of a cool fact: the film was partially shot in Winnipeg! I had heard of this before I saw the film, but had forgotten about it until Kirk whispered to me that the high school used in the film was actually the high school he went to! I'm still at the point where I get excited when I see landmarks I recognize on film, so it was really cool to recognize parts of my city.
One thing I didn't like about the film was the ending. It was very abrupt, and when the screen went black, I felt slightly dissatisfied...almost as if it ended mid-sentence. A better ending would have been about two minutes before the actual ending, because it offered better and less awkward closure. However, that's a very minor quibble. I know how difficult it is to end stories, and often you want to get as much in as possible, so you can't decide where you stop the story.
Here's the trailer:
If you get the opportunity, check it out!