Arab-American filmmaker Cherien Dabis May in the Summer was the opening film for the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It was also the premier screening of the film. The film was co-financed by Doha Film Institute (DFI) an independent cultural organisation focused on nurturing a strong Arab film industry by supporting […]
Arab-American filmmaker Cherien Dabis May in the Summer was the opening film for the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It was also the premier screening of the film.
The film was co-financed by Doha Film Institute (DFI) an independent cultural organisation focused on nurturing a strong Arab film industry by supporting regional and international productions. It also secured development support from the Time Warner Storytelling Grant, part of the Sundance Grants and Fellowship program and a production grant from the Jordan Film Fund and the Royal Film Commission of Jordan.
The movie is a follow up of Dabis first feature Amreeka, which premiered at Sundance in 2009 before heading off to the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the International Federation of Film Critics FIPRESCI Prize. It went on to win the Humanitas Prize and receive multiple 2010 Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations.
May in the Summer details the story of a bride-to-be who is forced to re-evaluate her life when she reunites with her family, only to be confronted with the aftermath of her parents divorce.
The cleverly-titled film follows May (Cherien Dabis) as she comes from New York to Amman, Jordan with her sisters as her wedding date approaches. Mays success as an intellectual and an author in the U.S. makes her popular among her mothers Jordanian friends, but she encounters much greater difficulty dealing with her family and deciding whether or not to go through the wedding.
The film stars Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbas, American comedienne Alia Shawkat, American actor Bill Pullman along with Cherien Dabis amongst others.
In the movie, Dabis pulls off her role as star actress, writer, director and producer with ease. It’s more classically normal for an actor to become a director but rare to have a director become an actor.
Unable to find just the right actress, Dabis cast herself after a long audition process, putting herself on tape several times and getting encouraging responses from friends and colleagues for her first film role.
“I sort of took the leap of faith. I faced a huge fear. It’s always something I’ve admired about actors, and that kept me very much hiding behind the camera. So now that I’ve taken that leap and faced the fear, I’m definitely open to it,” Dabis said.
“To have Sundance as a platform to launch my film as then have it on the opening night as well is really an honour,” she added.