Cherien Dabis and her film “Amreeka” battle “Precious” at the Independent Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced today and out director Cherien Dabis and her film Amreeka are among the nominees. Dabis’ film about a Palestinian family living in America post-9/11 is up against Precious in several categories, including Best Feature. Also in the category are (500) Days of Summer, Sin Nombre and The Last Station.

Dabis penned the script for her film, and is up for Best First Screenplay, as is Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious. She was not, however, nominated for Best Director, but PreciousLee Daniels was. Both of the films’ stars are up for Best Female Lead, too: Nisreen Faour and Gabourey Sidibe.

In comparing the two films, Precious has made a lot more at the box office (never underestimate the power of Oprah), but Amreeka has not done too shabby, especially for a limited release film. Since its September release, it’s grossed just under $2 million worldwide. Reviews have been mostly positive and the film has won several awards at film festivals, including Cannes and the Cairo Film Festival.

Earlier this year, Dabien told Women & Hollywood‘s Melissa Silverstein:

I wasn’t prepared for how tremendously positive the response has been. In some ways it is the perfect reception for this movie and maybe if it wasn’t such a difficult market we would have sold the film already. But I am hopeful and the prospects seem good. I have noticed that it is easier to get a film with a male lead financed, and to get those movies seen and sold and I don’t know why.

But she sold it and now it’s up for several awards. Let’s hope the Oscars follow suit and recognize Dabis and Amreeka for the cross-cultural dramedy that tugs at the heart strings.