Cherien is a self-proclaimed humanist and describes in her words, “After years spent working in Washington, DC, I realized that I could reach more people and affect more change through fiction than politics.”
She believes the medium is a powerful tool when discussing various issues. She says that because she was raised between the Middle East and the Mid-West, she has a unique perspective, one that she wanted to represent in her films. As a result, her films are somewhat autobiographical, and the influences drawn from her own personal life are quite evident. And so, her films take on themes of immigration, discrimination, cultural assimilation, and family. Her two first feature films compliment one another, and as Cherien puts it, the two “complete a diptych.” AMREEKA was about being Arab in America, and MAY IN THE SUMMER was about being American in the Middle East. The two films represent the merging, and often clashing, of two separate worlds.
Her first short film, MAKE A WISH, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and received awards at other festivals. She was a writer with the television series The L Word from 2006 to 2008.
Dabis made her feature film debut with AMREEKA which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The film also opened to critical praise other important venues. The DVD for AMREEKA was released on January 12, 2010 with MAKE A WISH.
Dabis’ second feature film, MAY IN THE SUMMER, screened at the opening night of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.