An Arabic-American filmmaker and writer, Cherien Dabis made a splash with her debut feature, "Amreeka," in 2009. Born to a Palestinian father and a Jordanian mother, Dabis grew up in Ohio and Jordan. She studied creative writing at the University of Cincinnati and film at the Columbia University School of the Arts, where she earned a Master's in 2004. Dabis began by writing short films for other directors, like the family drama "Nadah" and the comedy "Little Black Boot." She directed her first short film, "Memoirs of an Evil Stepmother," in 2004 and won acclaim for her second, "Make a Wish," which garnered notice at both the Cairo and Chicago Children's Film Festivals. She also began writing scripts for the popular cable drama "The L Word," and in 2008 co-produced two of its episodes. "Amreeka," her breakout film from 2009, was a hit on the international festival circuit and announced her as a filmmaker to watch. The film, which she also directed and produced, about a single mother attempting to cope in a small Midwestern town, earned her two Independent Spirit nominations and a prize at Cannes Film Festival.