For the second year in a row, a film directed and written by a Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program alumna will open the New Directors/New Films festival at the Museum of Modern Art and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, which runs March 25 to April 5 this year.
Cherien Dabis' (M.F.A., Film '04) Amreeka, which screened in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival this past January and was Dabis' M.F.A. thesis film at SoA, will open the 2009 New Directors/New Films festival in the film's New York premiere. The festival will present 23 other films representing 20 countries, in a program "dedicated to the discovery and support of emerging directors."
Courtney Hunt's (M.F.A., Film '94) Frozen River opened the 2008 New Directors/New Films festival. The film, which won the Grand Jury Prize in Dramatic Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, garnered two Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards this year, one for Hunt for best original screenplay, and one for best actress in a leading role (Melissa Leo).
Amreeka stars Nisreen Faour and Hiam Abbas in the story of Muna, a single mother from Ramallah, and Fadi, her teenage son, who move to Middle America just as U.S. troops enter Baghdad. The film was warmly received at Sundance.
Dabis' short film Make a Wish screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, the Berlinale, and the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, where it picked up the press prize and an honorable mention from the jury. The film also won major awards in Dubai, Rotterdam, Cairo, and Aspen. An alumnus of the Sundance Middle East Screenwriters Lab, the FIND Directors Lab, and Tribeca All Access, Dabis is the recipient of grants from the Jerome Foundation and National Geographic.