On assignment, I tracked down Palestinian New Yorker Cherein Dabis, director of Amreeka, via email. The emails rapidly led to a phone convo. She’s gregarious, talkative and has positive energy I could feel reverberating all along the transatlantic wires linking us.

Amreeka debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. It deals with cultural clashes and issues of exclusion when a Palestinian mom gets a green card and immigrates to America to secure a future. The movie is set in America, circa 2003, in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. 

Here are a few interesting statements that didn’t make the cut in the write up, for various reasons. Too political. Too metaphyiscal. Or just off topic. But still worth listing:

On Amreeka:

It was a catharsis. It was creative expression. Telling a story that had been with me for a very long time. The act of being able to share the story, tell the story, was amazing.

The telling of the story was a political act. The actual story itself is not political.

The movie is not overtly political. It’s a human story. It’s a family drama. With a lot of drama.

On creativity:

I think creativity stems from the need to express our own individual experiences. It’s a difficult and traumatic thing. But it’s also very constructive.

On self-expression and getting it done:

You’re your first guide. It’s never an easy road. There’ll be a thousand nos, but you just need one yes.

On being a nomad, a global citizen:

I belong nowhere, but fit in everywhere. It’s become the norm. We’re all citizens of the word, essentially. It’s becoming easier to communicate and travel. But this gives rise to complex issues of identity.

On identity and plurality:

I’m incredibly proud of where I am from. I’m proud of being an Arab. I’m proud of my language. But many of our issues come from clinging too hard to concepts of identity; when we cling to our nationalism and borders, we are giving strength to artificial constructs.

Ms. Dabis, it was a pleasure!