Doha Film Institute Celebrates Cherien Dabis's 'May in the Summer' Sundance Selection

National Geographic/Courtesy Everett Collection

The movie was co-financed by the Gulf state's cultural body and will open the U.S. dramatic competition strand in 2013.

LONDON – The selection of Arab-American filmmaker Cherien Dabis’s May in the Summer as the opening film for the U.S. dramatic competition strand at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival is being touted as a signal of success for the Doha Film Institute's funding ambitions.

The Middle Eastern state's cultural organization, whose annual Doha Tribeca Film Festival wrapped in late November, co-financed Dabis's Jordanian-set drama which stars Palestinian actress and director Hiam Abbas (The Visitor) and American comedienne Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) along with Dabis.

Having won international recognition for her first feature Amreeka, Cherien’s follow-up film 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 project, exec produced by Whitewater Films and Durga Entertainment, 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.

Doha Film Institute head of film financing Paul Miller said: "Co-financing is an important component of our film financing initiatives, which also includes the MENA Grants and the Gulf Development Unit. May in the Summer is a powerful addition to our portfolio of co-financed projects, which demonstrates our long-term commitment to building the Arab film industry by supporting talented filmmakers both regionally and from the Arab diaspora."

DFI CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater said: "One of the key objectives of DFI is to foster and facilitate the evolution of a pan Arab film industry, whereby talented filmmakers have the opportunity to tell their stories to the world. Cherien’s May in the Summer presents a compelling portrait of Arab society, and we are honored that our latest Middle Eastern project is opening the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, reiterating the strong global inroads made by Arab films and filmmakers."

May in the Summer follows another DFI bankrolled project onto the international festival stage after Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist opened this year's Venice Film Festival.