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Final film in KIPCOR series tells Palestinian immigrants’ story

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The fourth in a four-film series at Bethel College looking at issues related to Israel/Palestine is a departure in genre: Amreeka is a feature film (the other three were documentaries).

Amreeka will air in Krehbiel Auditorium Thursday, Sept. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. The film is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the work of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the local sponsor of the film series.

Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, dreaming of an exciting future in the promised land of small-town Illinois.

Once in America, Fadi navigates high school hallways the way he used to move through military checkpoints, while the indomitable Muna scrambles together a new life, cooking up falafel burgers as well as hamburgers at the local White Castle (the only job she can find, despite two degrees and 15 years’ experience in banking).

Amreeka (96 minutes) was writer-director Cherien Dabis’ feature film debut. It recalls her own family’s memories of their lives in rural America during the first Iraq War.

In 2009, Amreeka made its world premiere in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival; played as the official “Opening Night Selection” of New Directors/New Films, a co-presentation of the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York; and debuted internationally in Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Christian Science Monitor called Amreeka “a charming, humorous spin on the classic immigrant story,” while the New York Times said: “Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka stands alongside The Visitor and Maria Full of Grace as one of the most accomplished recent films about a non-European immigrant coming to the United States.”

KIPCOR’s showing of Amreeka is part of San Francisco-based Art with Impact’s inaugural Underground Film Series. Art with Impact selected the award-winning film because of its insights into Arab culture, immigration issues and American awareness (or lack thereof) of the Israeli/Palestinian relationship.

Jennifer Tipton and Cary McQueen Morrow founded Art with Impact with a mission “to connect people to global issues through art and media and provide them opportunities to share their voices and time in meaningful ways.”

In particular, Art with Impact strives to help students and community members join together and effect change, working through three programs, one of which is the Underground Film Series.

The next Underground Film Series will be on mental health. For more about the series, see www.artwithimpact.org/.

For more information about the showing of Amreeka, contact KIPCOR at 316-284-5217.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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