Monday, September 21, 2009

Amreeka Brings Me Back Home

Lately, I've spent my afternoons stuck and sticky on the couch while watching marathons of such shows as "Top Chef" and "Gilmore Girls." As I watch, I often think, I should read, I should write, I should work on my blog. But instead I flip through channels to find last week's episode of "The Rachel Zoe Project."

This weekend I finally decided to remove myself from the growing dent in the couch. I took a walk around Downtown L.A., enjoyed a free art and light exhibit in Pershing Square with my three-year-old nephew, sat outside in the garden to read, and yesterday I treated my mother to a viewing of "Amreeka."

"Amreeka" is a movie that follows a mother and son as they emigrate from the West Bank to the U.S. just as the first Iraq war breaks out. Written and directed Cherien Dabis in her feature film debut, she pulled the story from her own memories of her family's journey to the U.S.

In the movie, Muna, the main character and mother of a sixteen year-old boy, begins working at a White Castle in rural Illinios. In one scene she laments that back at home she had two degrees and ten years experience working as a bank clerk, but none of that matters in her new country of residence. Her son, Faddi, also has to traverse the many pitfalls of life in the U.S., especially figuring out how to perserve his identity amongst small-brained American high school boys. But where are they to go when they are outsiders here, and outsiders there?

It is easy to see that this film was a love letter to family, culture, and roots, and reminds me that no matter where we come from we all struggle for the same things: security, respect, and a home. And so "Amreeka," with it's beautiful portrayal of an Arabic home, brings me back to my home: this blog.