Hiam Abbass

Actress
(Updated on 04/15/2013)
Hiam Abbass

Hiam Abbass grew up in a village in northern Galilee in Israel. Though she first appeared on stage at age 9, she quickly turned to photography, which she studied in Haifa. She then joined the Palestinian theater company El- Hakawati, before working in a children’s theater. She made her screen debut in 1987 with Michel Khleifi’s Wedding in Galilee. After a brief passage in London, Abbass settled in France in the late 1980s, working for both the small and big screens. An FLN activist in Living in Paradise, she portrayed Gérard Depardieu’s spouse in A Loving Father (2002). She became well known for her role in Tunisian director Raja Amari’s Red Satin (2002).


Polyglot Abbass advised Steven Spielberg on the shooting of Munich (2005), portrayed the mother of a suicide bomber in Paradise Now (2005) directed by Hany Abu-Assad, and played the role of the emancipated sister of The Syrian Bride (2004) directed by Eran Riklis, who later cast her as the obstinate heroine in Lemon Tree (2008). While working with the most famous filmmakers of the Middle East, from Yousry Nasrallah to Amos Gitai (Free Zone, 2005), the actress is also sought after in France. Directed by Patrice Chéreau and Jean Becker (Conversations with My Gardener, 2007), she also lent her voice to the animated film Azur and Asmar (2006).


Abbass has worked with American film directors Jim Jarmusch (The Limits of Control, 2009) and Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor, 2007). The itinerant filmmaker Julian Schanbel entrusted her with the role of Hind Husseini, director of an orphanage for Palestinian children in Miral (2010). In 2012 she directed her first feature Inheritance, which premiered in Venice and was released in France last December.

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