Born in Nazareth, raven-haired Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass jump-started her career in European films. Early parts included those of a policeman's wife in [[Performer~P191962~Rashid Masharawi~rashidmasharawi]]'s contemporary drama [[Feature~V136367~Haifa~haifa]] (1996), that of a North African immigrant during a period of intense anti-Algerian discrimination in [[Performer~P139616~Bouriem Guerdjou~bouriemguerdjou]]'s fine, overlooked drama [[Feature~V173833~Vivre au Paradis~vivreauparadis]] (1998), and the role of Om-Younes in [[Performer~P104078~Yousry Nasrallah~yousrynasrallah]]'s controversial Israel-Palestine epic [[Feature~V309700~Bab el Chams~babelchams]] ([[Feature~V309700~The Door to the Sun~babelchams]]).
Abbass moved into Hollywood work courtesy of (and at the behest of) no less than [[Performer~P112325~Steven Spielberg~stevenspielberg]], when the director cast her in a small role in his early '70s-set political thriller [[Feature~V329301~Munich~munich]]. After this, Western roles began to arrive quickly and furiously; they included the mother of a terrorist (in the jihad-themed thriller [[Feature~V322231~Paradise Now~paradisenow]] ) and the mother of the Virgin Mary (in [[Performer~P93419~Catherine Hardwicke~catherinehardwicke]]'s biblical cinematization [[Feature~V347448~The Nativity Story~thenativitystory]]), in addition to a supporting role in [[Performer~P81163~Jean Becker~jeanbecker]]'s low-key seriocomedy [[Feature~V381690~Conversations with My Gardener~conversationswithmygardener]] (2007). Abbass then returned to Israel for the lead in [[Feature~V431679~Lemon Tree~lemontree]], a comedy about a Palestinian woman who refuses the minister of defense's bids to have her lemon tree torn down. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi