Cherien Dabis

Cherien Dabis

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: Film - Video

Competition: US & Canada

Cherien Dabis is an award-winning feature filmmaker who received her M.F.A. in film from Columbia University. She wrote, directed, produced, and edited several short films, including Make a Wish (2006), which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, as well as Clermont-Ferrand where it won the Press Prize and Jury’s Special Mention. The film went on to win eleven more top international awards. Dabis worked for three seasons as a writer and co-producer on Showtime’s groundbreaking, original hit television series The L Word before going on to make her feature writing and directorial debut with Amreeka.

Amreeka (2009) world-premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2009), opened New York’s New Director’s/New Films at the MoMA (2009), and won the prestigious FIPRESCI award in the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes (2009). It was nominated for a Best Picture Gotham Award (2009), three Independent Spirit Awards (2010), including Best Picture, and was named one of the Top Ten Independent Films of the Year by the National Board of Review (2009). The same year, Dabis was also named one of Variety’s “Ten Directors to Watch.” Amreeka was released theatrically to worldwide critical acclaim and was chosen as one of only five American films to take part in the Sundance Institute’s inaugural Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue initiative, an international cinematic cultural exchange and diplomacy program.

A USA Rockefeller Fellow (2010) and winner of the Humanitas Prize (2009) as well as the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award (2009), Dabis is an alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab (2010, 2005), Film Independent Director’s Lab (2005), and Tribeca All Access (2007), where she was honored with the first-ever L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth Vision Award. She was also appointed a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellow in Playwriting/Screenwriting (2007) and has received a Renew Media/Tribeca Film Institute Media Artist Fellowship (2008). In support of her work, she has been awarded generous grants from National Geographic, the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Sundance Institute.

This summer, Dabis is slated to go into production on her second feature film, May in the Summer, for which she won a Time Warner Storytelling Grant (2010), Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Grant (2010, 2009), as well as the prestigious Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Dabis has been an advisor for the Sundance Screenwriter’s Labs in both Turkey and Jordan and has taught screenwriting in the graduate film program at Columbia University. She currently splits her time between New York City and Amman, Jordan.


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