In this Muftah podcast, we speak to Heidi Saman, the writer and soon-to-be director of Namour, a film about a young Arab-American man who struggles in a dead-end job while his close-knit family comes unravelled.
These days it’s hard to find funders to support films about Arab-Americans, which don’t engage in the same old tired tropes of terrorism or a clash of civilizations between East and West. But, Heidi is persevering and currently running a campaign on the crowd funding site, Kickstarter, to raise $25,000 to make her film.
In this podcast, we speak to Heidi about deciding to bring this particular story to life, the reasons she went into film, and the stories that draw her in as a filmmaker.
But, first, here’s a little more background on Namour, as described on the film’s Kickstarter page:
What Is Namour?
NAMOUR is a feature length film that tells the story of Steven Bassem, a young man going nowhere fast, literally. His job as a valet driver for a fashionable restaurant brings him into regular contact with Los Angeles’ moneyed elite and their very expensive automobiles, but Steven can’t shake the feeling that his temporary gig has somehow become permanent — and what he took for a post-college rut is turning into his future.
As friends and lovers drift away and his close-knit Arab American family begins to fall apart, Steven begins to act out the drama of his permanent adolescence in ways that surprise even him.
A sparse and stylized homage to Los Angeles, NAMOUR is about the decisions we make when our responsibilities begin to weigh down our convictions — and why life can feel like it’s passing us by.
Basically, NAMOUR is your favorite film that hasn’t been made yet.
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Support a film that is truly independent
For two years, I’ve been meeting with financing producers, most of whom turned down NAMOUR because they didn’t think there was an audience for an independent film that features Arab-Americans. Other producers told me that they couldn’t back a film that had Arab-Americans as the leads because they weren’t “likeable” enough for audiences.
One producer told me that I should turn the script into something more palatable for audiences – like a family drama or romantic comedy with a wedding (this is starting to sound familiar, isn’t it?).
The one that hurt the most was when a potential investor mentioned that I should include a theme about terrorism, because that would be an appealing and recognizable topic for an Arab-American lead character.
These investors wanted me to reiterate and reinforce Arab stereotypes and story lines that were safe, “market-approved,” and not at all connected to the story I wanted to tell. Their comments convinced me that the only way to make my film the way I wanted to make it would be through truly independent means –– which is why I’m reaching out to you with this Kickstarter campaign.
Help me prove those producers wrong. Let’s send the message that there is an audience for well-told, unique stories that feature people of color in dynamic and non-stereotypical roles. Any donation will help. I will only receive the funds from this campaign if I reach my Kickstarter goal. So any amount you can give will get me that much closer to my goal.
Listen to the podcast here: