Hiam Abbass was born and raised in a village in northern Galilee. After studying photography in Haifa, Abbass moved to France in the late 1980s and embarked on a career as an actress. She earned fame in the role of a mother who takes up belly dancing in Red Satin by Tunisian director Raja Amari. Other prominent directors she has worked with include acclaimed filmmakers such as Yousry Nasrallah in The Gate to the Sun (2004), Hany Abu-Assad in Paradise Now (2005), Najawa Najjar in Pomegranates and Myrrh (2008), Patrice Chéreau in Persecution (2009), Jean Becker in Conversations with My Gardener (2007), Nicolas Saada in Spy(ies) (2009), Jim Jarmusch in The Limits of Control (2009), Thomas McCarthy in The Visitor, Julian Schnabel in Miral (2010) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007); and Radu Mihaileanu in The Source (2011). Hiam Abbass was an adviser to Steven Spielberg during the filming of Munich and to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for his film Babel (2006). She has directed three short movies; Bread, in which she acts as well, The Eternal Dance and Le Donne della Vucciria (2013), which she also co-wrote. Her first feature-length movie as director and writer, Inheritance (2012), was highly acclaimed.