May in the Summer
To all appearances, May Brennan (Cherien Dabis) has it all -- intelligent, gorgeous, the recipient of raves for her recently published book and set to marry her loving fiancé Ziad (Alexander Siddig), a distinguished New York scholar. But immediately upon returning to her familial hometown of Amman, Jordan for the wedding, the cracks in her seemingly perfect life begin to show.
May’s headstrong, born-again Christian mother Nadine (Hiam Abbass) disapproves of Ziad’s Muslim faith and is firm in her decision to not attend the ceremony. Her sisters Dalia (Alia Shawkat) and Yasmine (Nadine Malouf) revert to behaving like rebellious teenagers as their estranged father Edward (Bill Pullman) awkwardly attempts to make amends. Confronted with the wounds of her parent’s long-broken relationship, coupled with the unavoidable clash of old-world and modern values, May is lead to question the direction her life is taking. Her once carefully structured world appears to unravel as she grapples with her own truths in this fresh, exotic look at a woman caught in the crossroads between tradition and choice.
May in the Summer, written and directed by Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), stars Dabis, Alia Shawkat, Nadine Malouf, Ritu Singh Pande, Hiam Abbass and Bill Pullman. The film was produced by Dabis, Alix Madigan-Yorkin and Christopher Tricarico.
Cherien Dabis is an award-winning feature filmmaker who received her MFA in film from Columbia University. She wrote, directed, produced and edited several short films including Make a Wish, 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, among other awards. Dabis worked for three seasons as a writer and co-producer on Showtime’s groundbreaking, original hit series The L Word, before going on to make her feature writing and directorial debut with Amreeka.
In 2009, Amreeka world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, opened New Director’s/New Films at MoMA, and won the prestigious FIPRESCI award in the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. It was nominated for a Best Picture Gotham Award, 3 Independent Spirit Awards, and was named one of the Top Ten Independent Films of the Year by the National Board of Review. The same year, Dabis was also named one of Variety’s “Ten Directors to Watch.”
Dabis returns to Sundance with her second feature May in the Summer. In it, she makes her acting debut alongside Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Siddig and Bill Pullman.
A Guggenheim Fellow, USA Rockefeller Fellow and winner of the Humanitas Prize as well as the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, Dabis is an alumnus of the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, Film Independent Director’s Lab and Tribeca All Access, where she was honored with the L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth Vision Award. She was also appointed a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellow in Playwriting / Screenwriting and has received a Renew Media / Tribeca Film Institute Media Artist Fellowship. She has also been awarded grants from Time Warner, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, National Geographic, the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the Sundance / NHK International Filmmaker Award.
Dabis has been an advisor for the Sundance Screenwriter’s Labs in both Turkey and Jordan and has taught in the graduate film program at Columbia University. She currently resides in New York City.