Pomegranate is a Dramady written by Director Weam Namou. It’s based on her childhood experiences immigrating from Iraq to the United States, and then as an adult living through the presidential election of 2016. Consequently, Pomegranate is the story about how, in the weeks before the election of Donald Trump in 2016, a young, politically liberal, Iraqi Muslim immigrant struggles to find her footing in a neighborhood of well-to-do, politically conservative, Iraqi Christians, while battling her family’s fears of deprivation and demands of loyalty to Muslim traditions.
Inspired by her idol Enheduanna, the first recorded writer in history and famed priestess of Ancient Mesopotamia, Niran navigates societal challenges, fights against cultural stereotypes, and most of all, aims to make her voice heard by all around her. With a desire to study, work, and love, Niran rediscovers her purpose in life. But surrounded by strong, opinionated women, can she live up to their expectations while meeting her own?
Weam Namou – Writer / Director
Born in Baghdad to an ancient lineage called the Chaldeans (Neo-Babylonians who still speak Aramaic), Weam Namou is the Executive Director of the Chaldean Cultural Center, which houses the first and only Chaldean Museum in the world. She’s an Eric Hoffer award-winning author of 14 books, an international award-winning filmmaker, journalist, poet, and an Ambassador for the Authors Guild of America [Detroit Chapter], the nation’s oldest and largest writing organization. She hosts a half-hour weekly TV show, and she’s the founder of The Path of Consciousness, a spiritual and writing community, and Unique Voices in Films.
Namou’s book, The Great American Family: A Story of Political Disenchantment, won an Eric Hoffer Book Award and her feature documentary with the same title, which she wrote, produced, and directed, earned several international film awards including IndieFEST and ImpactDocs. The book has since been optioned by Gregory Johnson of Range Media Partners (Los Angeles, California) and the feature documentary is now represented by Jeff Porter Pictures (Beverly Hills, California). She’s currently working on her first feature film, Pomegranate, which was selected quarter finalist by Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope. The film is being produced by Dr. Stan Williams and Santa Monica’s Buffalo 8 Productions.
Namou’s essays, articles, and poetry have been published by national and international publications including World Literature Today, Acumen [England], and the Transnational [Germany]. A keynote speaker, Namou has given readings, lectures, and workshops at numerous cultural and educational institutions. In 2012, Erootha, a local arts organization, honored her with an Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award.
Scott Rosenfelt, Executive Producer
On the strength of such films as Home Alone, Smoke Signals, Mystic Pizza, Teen Wolf and Extremities, Scott has garnered international acclaim and recognition. Rosenfelt’s most recent film, Critical Thinking, is about the Miami Jackson High School chess team that won the national chess championship in 1998 with a group of Latino and Black inner-city kids. It was an early selection of the 2020 SXSW Film Festival for its world premiere.
From 2012-2015, Rosenfelt served as Professional-in-Residence at Quinnipiac University. He has been a guest lecturer at the Beijing Film Academy as well as at Harvard’s Department of Government, and the American University in Paris. He has spoken numerous times at the Tisch School at NYU, USC, UCLA, Chapman University and Loyola Marymount as well as the AFI. He recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 Lighthouse International Film Festival. Rosenfelt is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Pomegranate Pictures is pleased to announce the attachment of Samya (“Sam”) Rahmani to play the lead in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Samya was born in London, England to Iraqi parents and grew up between Canada and Jordan. She started acting at age 11 when she played a small role in Guys & Dolls and stayed involved in theatre throughout high school and university in many productions like The Wiz, Rent and Fame. Sam recently broke out into television and film; her most recent work Child Bride screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. She plays Lamma in the new television series Little America, streaming on Apple TV+. She’s also made an appearance in The CW’s Charmed, and played the role of Zadi in the new Hulu Original comedy Woke, alongside Lamorne Morris, Sasheer Zamata and Blake Anderson. Her upcoming projects include a starring role in a drama short with award-winning director Mostafa Keshvari. Sam has trained at the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts and the esteemed William Esper Studio in NYC.
In Pomegranate, Sam plays the lead, Niran Al Mousawi, a recent refugee-immigrant with her family from Iraq. She dreams of getting her driver’s license, going to college, getting a job and becoming a modern-day journalist or poet, if she can only shake her mother’s strict Muslim traditions. Curvy in the right places, she prefers tight jeans and tops but wears the hijab to keep her mother from deporting her back to Iraq or marrying her off to an unknown suitor. Politically liberal, and easily irritated, she has trouble accepting the resettlement help of Mary, a neighbor who, although also form Iraq, is politically a conservative, a Christian, and well assimilated into American culture.
Pomegranate’s writer-director, Weam Namou said, “When I saw Samya’s demo reel, I knew she had to play Niran, our main character. She had the beautiful soft features and strong characteristic of Niran. I didn’t learn that she’s of Iraqi background until the day of the audition, and that made it even more special for me to have her play this role.”
Pomegranate Pictures is excited to announce the attachment of Natally Boutros to co-star in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “For Mary’s role, we had to replace Yasmine Al Bustami due to her having other commitments. Our executive producer, Scott Rosenfelt, then advised me to look for a local talent, for that person who was going to make their acting debut in Pomegranate. That’s when we found Natally.”
Natally is a first-generation Chaldean American born and raised in Michigan. Being a child of an immigrant family, she understands the hardships a first-generation American child faces growing up. Not only that, but she understands how it feels to be a female through it all. She was often pushed away from “petty” passions and hobbies as the people closest to her saw no value in them. Throughout grade school, Natally chased her passions that included theatre, singing, and video production. She enjoyed creating short films that showcased her talent. She participated in on-stage musical productions of Grease, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and more. She participated in the Michigan solo and ensemble festival 3 years in a row where she received a superior medal her last 2 years. Solo & Ensemble Festival is an opportunity for individual students from member schools to perform a selection of their choice to be judged by professionals in the space.
After grade school, Natally went on to successfully attain a bachelor’s degree in Marketing in only three years from Oakland University. In college, she produced, wrote, and directed a short film showcasing the stigma surrounding mental illness. While it wasn’t a professional production, it showcases the talent and passion Natally has for acting and film production. She used any opportunity as a chance to let her passions shine. Natally is thrilled and ready to share her talents with the world as a part of the cast of Pomegranate.
Pomegranate Pictures is excited to announce the attachment of the versatile Iraqi actor, Basim Alameen to co-star in the 2021 production of Pomegranate.
Basim Alameen was born in Baghdad, Iraq, where, in 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Television Directing from the University of Baghdad, College of Fine Arts. In 2010 he immigrated to the United States. As an actor, director, and writer, Basim has performed in two-dozen stage performances, some for television and radio, but mostly in plays where he played the lead. His United States plays include: The King’s Bird, Where are the Arabs?, Silent, No Past No Future, The Miser, The Heir However, Mom’s on Facebook, and the epic Iraqi comedy George Bush. Eight of Basim’s stage performances were in Iraq, nine in the United States, and the rest of his work was done in different parts of the Middle East including Jordan, Bahrain, and UAE-Dubai. Additionally, Basim is an accomplished voice actor, imitating voices of major actors and celebrities. He is will-known in the Middle East for his several dramatic radio and television series that aired in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE-Dubai, and Syria.
Basim was almost discovered at age 9, when his aunt took him to a party in Cairo at the Iraqi embassy where the legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez was performing (Abdel Halim Hafez was the Elvis of the Arab World.) As the crew set up the stage, Basim took the microphone and began singing one of Abdel Halim Hafez’s songs. Everyone tried to stop him, but Abdel Halim Hafez told them to leave the boy alone and told Basim to continue singing. Abdel Halim Hafez clapped for Basim afterwards and recognizing his talent, asked his aunt if she’d permit him to stay in Egypt and attend the Academy of Arts. But his aunt refused, wanting Basim to pursue a conservative career.
For Pomegranate, Basim takes on the role of “Sermad Al Mousawi,” Hassina’s husband and Niran’s benevolent father who works two jobs to keep food stuffed in the double-sided refrigerator. Sermad’s a teddy bear of a man loved by all. He dresses well when he goes to work as a short-order cook at one of two restaurants, but around home he lounges with too small T-shirts and pants that ride too low (he lets Hassina wear the family pants). While Hassina wants to marry Niran off or ship her back to Iraq, Sermad encourages his daughter to get her driver’s license, an education, and pursue a career…but all in due time, “What’s the rush?” Sermad is also the coupon cutter in the household, favoring the “Groger” circular. Pomegranate’s writer-director, Weam Namou said, “It’s exciting to have a distinguished Iraqi-American actor and director as part of our cast.”
Pomegranate Pictures is pleased to announce the attachment of Kevin D. Hewitt, SOC as the motion picture project’s Director of Photography.
Kevin is a 35-year veteran Director of Photography, Cinematographer, Camera Operator, Steadicam owner/operator, and FAA licensed Drone owner/pilot. He is best known for his Steadicam and camera work on Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and A Most Violent Year (2014).
As a Director of Photography, Kevin has worked on numerous feature-length films and hundreds of local and national spots. He’s traveled to 29 different countries teaming up with all the major networks photographing everything from a powerful documentary on the Holocaust, to cooking adventures in search of exotic food for the Food Network, to a series of programs on flight for Discovery Channel and HBO, to mixed martial arts with M-1 Global, and to 5 years of Steadicam on Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation on CBS.
In the Reality arena, Kevin has worked with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover- Home Edition,” along with “Hard Core Pawn” and “Antiques Roadshow.”
Before that Kevin worked for the NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit, where he was the Electronic Field Production Supervisor of a seven-person team filming commercials, documentaries, music videos and special programming aimed at syndication. Kevin’s talent and hard work were rewarded during his time at WDIV with numerous Emmy Awards.
Pomegranate will be shot on Sony’s F5 camera with Zeiss Superspeed primes at 1:1.85 and 4K. Kevin will work behind the camera, as well behind his Steadicam, and as a FAA licensed pilot to gather drone footage around Detroit and Sterling Heights where the majority of the picture will be shot.
Pomegranate’s writer-director, Weam Namou said, “Given Kevin’s long running professional career in the film industry, we’re excited to have him as Pomegranate’s Director of Photography. We know that his expertise and experience will serve and enhance our film’s narrative as he translates the script into viewable images.”
Pomegranate Pictures is very glad to announce that 40-year Hollywood veteran, Sam-of-All-Trades Sako, has joined the Pomegranate motion picture production team as Producer, Casting Director, and Cultural Advisor.
As a foreign language coach in Hollywood, Sam is often called on by producers to coach some of the world’s best-known on-screen talent, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Omar Sharif, Mark Strong, Russel Crow, Oscar Isaac, Brad Dourif, Tim Roth, Scott Glenn, Danny Trejo, and Freddy Rodriguez to name few.
Sam’s nickname (Sam of all trades) comes from his broad knowledge of the industry resulting from decades of work as an actor, casting director, voice over artist, Middle East cultural consultant, dialect coach, ADR performer, cinematographer, editor, producer and director. He’s worked extensively on independent and major studio domestic and foreign releases, and particularly those for Middle East markets. His best- known films include Body of Lies, Green Zone, Hidalgo, The Passion of the Christ, Iron Man, Mad Max: Furry Road, Beverly Hills Cop II, & Robo Cop. Major television projects have included Over There, Touch, NCIS, Weeds, Homeland and Lethal Weapon.
As a young man, Sam lived throughout the Middle East where he learned many languages and Arabic dialects including Egyptian, Khaliji, Yemeni, Lebanese, Moroccan, Saudi, Farsi and Dari/Pashtune. Soon after his high school graduation, his family moved to Greece. There, he learned a new culture and language, and soon moved to the United States. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he received an A.A. degree in Liberal Arts from Wayne County Community College. Then he was off to California where he earned in B.A. in Motion Picture and Television Production from California State University Northridge.
Weam Namou, Pomegranate’s writer-director said, “Having worked with Sam in the past, I’m thrilled that we have teamed up to work on another project, Pomegranate. As a Casting Director, Producer, and Middle Eastern Consultant, Sam is incredibly important to our film. His role will require a great deal of care and attention and vast amounts of knowledge which, given his decades of working with major studies in Hollywood, will definitely help us realize our film’s vision.”
Pomegranate Pictures is thrilled to announce the attachment of Comedian Zain Shami to co-star in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “We looked high and low, and suddenly there she was, the essence of what I had impossibly imagined—an Iraqi hijabi comic who loves to wear muumuus. We are fortunate to have Zain join our talented team.”
ZAIN SHAMI is a Los Angeles based actress and stand-up comedian. She is one of the first internationally known Hijabi Muslim females who performs standup comedy within the United States. Born in Kuwait, to Iraqi parents, Zain left the Middle East at the young age of two, whereupon her parents immigrated to California. Raised in Los Angeles with a very unique perspective on religion and culture, she is able to grapple her unique and unrivaled upbringing with a lot of laughter and love! She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Literature and English Education from Cal State Long Beach. She worked at Disney Entertainment, and was a newspaper journalist for a while. As an actress she’s been on numerous television shows and films helping to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims alike by normalizing the everyday life of a Hijabi Muslim American female. Active on social media as @ZainComedy, she has over fifty-thousand followers on Instagram, and almost half-million on TikTok.
For Pomegranate, Zain takes on the role of Hassina Al Mousawi Niran’s loving but strict Muslim mother. A strong woman, Hassina thinks muumuus are the latest American fashion always wearing a matching hijab. Under her muumuus, Hassina wears the family pants. Easily irritable, she’s obsessed with food and keeps their dual-sided refrigerator and freezer stocked to overflowing. Her biggest problem is getting her food stamp card renewed so her family won’t starve. She’s also obsessed with marrying Niran off and keeps Polaroid snaps of possible suitors in her bra.
Pomegranate Pictures is pleased to announce the attachment of Ismail Taher to co-star in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “Ismail did his homework and knew the character he was auditioning for so well that he fell perfectly into the role with the very first line he spoke at the audition. We’re very excited to have him aboard.”
ISMAIL MUSA TAHER is a first-generation Chicago-based, Palestinian-American actor and influencer. His mother was born in Palestine and moved to America at 13, while his father was born in America and spent a majority of his childhood in Palestine. Consequently, Ismail grew up in a house that was rooted in Middle Eastern culture, food and media. As a kid he would visit Palestine to see family and friends every two years. He writes, “I’m extremely grateful to be both Arab and American.” Ismail is known for his role as Matt in the upcoming pilot Southport, and Joe in the Theater Production of Mama’s Curse of the Corner Blues. He has trained extensively in both improv and method acting at the Second City Chicago, in the Shurtleff technique at Acting Studio Chicago, and in Meisner Technique at Black Box Acting Studio.
For Pomegranate, Ismail will play the role of Ali Al Mousawi, Niran’s handsome but mischievous brother who also wants to get a job and move out of the house. Always optimistic, he enjoys teasing Niran about her poetry, fake Facebook posts, and the incongruity of her tight clothes and the loose hijab. A laid-back wannabe playboy who has eyes on Mary, the Christian neighbor, Ali riles his strict Muslim family with claims that he’s an atheist.
Amanda Kashat Attached for Supporting Role in Indie Motion Picture Pomegranate
Pomegranate Pictures is pleased to announce the attachment of Amanda Kashat for a supporting role in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “I’m so happy that Amanda has joined the cast of extraordinary women in the film Pomegranate. These women are talented, diverse, strong, and are breaking barriers. Furthermore, they authentically represent the Iraqi American community being portrayed.”
– Pomegranate Pictures is pleased to announce the attachment of Amanda Kashat for a supporting role in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “I’m so happy that Amanda has joined the cast of extraordinary women in the film Pomegranate. These women are talented, diverse, strong, and are breaking barriers. Furthermore, they authentically represent the Iraqi American community being portrayed.”
Amanda has spent years modeling for hair shows and has been in various commercials including Art Van, Red Wings, Dow Chemical, PBS, and many others. She was the “main girl” in an international music video. A wife and a mother of four beautiful children, Amanda is also a successful businesswoman. She speaks Arabic and Aramaic.
For Pomegranate, Amanda takes on the role of Nisreen, Mary’s widowed and frail but ambulatory mother obsessed with black coffee and pomegranates. Her biggest concern is for her adult children’s success in life. She’s the emotional anchor in their home, volunteering when she can at her Chaldean church’s pantry and clothes closet for the poor.
Lamar Babi Attached to Co-Star in Indie Motion Picture Pomegranate
Pomegranate Pictures is excited to announce the attachment of Lamar Babi to co-star in the 2021 production of Pomegranate. Writer-director, Weam Namou, said, “Lamar has charisma, and he naturally embodies the character he plays, Matthew. Furthermore, he represents the Chaldean community he’s portraying, which makes his performance more authentic and enchanting to viewers. We’re very happy to have Lamar join our talented team.”
Lamar Babi was born in San Diego, CA and raised in Detroit, Michigan by his Chaldean (Catholic-Iraqi) parents. Babi has that natural gravitas and charisma that makes you want to watch him whenever he pops up on the screen. Whether it’s winning awards for Best Actor in an indie film like Detroit Unleaded, sharing the screen in movies like Crave, starring Josh Lawson, Emma Lung, Ron Perlman and Edward Furlong, starring in the multiple award winning commercial for Alexander’s Tuxedos, or commanding the TV screen as the Co-host of the nationally televised talk show “Kiki Mobile” Babi has been honing his craft as an actor and artist for 17 years in multiple indie films, tv roles, and commercials. His upcoming projects include two exciting TV pilots that he is executive producing and starring in. Babi has trained with Marjorie Ballentine, Amy Lyndon, Jeremiah Comey, and Marta DuBois.
For Pomegranate, Lamar takes on the role of Matthew, Niran’s love interest who lives across the street. He’s a responsible man of the house since his father’s passing. He’s very handsome, mature, shy, and phlegmatic – having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition.
James Stonehead, Music Composer
James Stonehouse is a Michigan-based musical composer, performer, and arranger. With a musical palette covering western and eastern genres, James has composed over 1,000 compositions from long-form classical symphony orchestrations to syncopated jazz, pop rock, hip-hop, reggae, salsa, heavy metal and bluegrass. In recent years he has composed the music for eight feature films, nine shorts, several theatrical stage musicals, numerous documentaries and a nearly two dozen commercials. Some of his commercial clients include Toyota, Dodge, McDonalds, West Grange Pharmacy, and Michigan’s Emagine Theatre.
James also arranges for singer-songwriters, like Stewart Franke’s album “Heartless World” featuring Bruce Springsteen. He completed a documentary “Little Gandi” by the award-winning director of “The Citizen” Sam Kadi. For producer-director Stan Williams, James wrote the score for the feature length documentary Extraordinary: Stories About Fr. Solanus Casey for Children, the feature length comedy Annaliese! Annaliese! The Webisodes, and various musical themes for Williams’s television series.
James showed a gift for music at an early age. In elementary school he began his journey by learning to play Trumpet, Guitar and Piano. At age 10, he began composing. A bit later he fell in love with musical theater and film and began composing long form works for orchestra. At 16 he began playing piano at establishments around metro Detroit, and after school composed and performed music for television commercials.
Upon high school graduation he studied composition at prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. James inspirational and dramatic film music is listed on IMDB and can be heard on SoundCloud.
Pomegranate’s writer-director, Weam Namou said, “I listened to Jame’s music and got a sense of how it will feel set up against the film. His knowledge of rhythm, melody, tone, and texture helped us decide that he’s the right composer for Pomegranate.”