Amira & Sam
Amira & Sam is a 2014 American film written and directed by Sean Mullin and produced by Terry Leonard, Erich Lochner, and Matt Miller with executive producers James Ponsoldt, Meg Montagnino-Jarrett, and Peter Sobiloff. A romantic comedy set in New York City, the film is about Sam, an American soldier, and Amira, an illegal immigrant from Iraq. Drafthouse Cinemas has the distribution rights.
|Amira & Sam|
|Directed by||Sean Mullin|
|Screenplay by||Sean Mullin|
|Music by||Heather McIntosh|
|Edited by||Julian Robinson|
|Distributed by||Drafthouse Films|
The film has several story elements, including capitalism, immigration, life after the military, and attempting to be successful in the entertainment world.
The film is set in New York City in 2008, prior to the Great Recession. Sam, a soldier who had served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, meets Amira when he visits her uncle, Bassam, who had served as Sam's Iraqi translator. Bassam and Sam have a special bond due to their time together in the war. Initially Amira does not trust him because he was an American soldier and her brother was killed by a bomb from American troops in the war. Sam's cousin, Charlie, asks Sam to help him with illegal hedge funds unbeknownst to Sam at the time. Amira is staying with her uncle Bassam since her father died. She sells bootlegged films on the street corner but is forced to stay with Sam after getting busted; immigration officials begin pursuing her. As the film progresses, Sam and Amira fall in love.
- Amira Jafari (Dina Shihabi) - A Muslim woman from Iraq, Amira is an illegal immigrant and sells unlicensed movies. She identifies as a Muslim American but is not strict with the Islamic religion.
- She wears a khimar (hijab) with miniskirts and low-cut tops. This clothing choice is intentional, and when a Muslim woman observing hijab criticizes her choices, Amira responds by telling her to mind her own business. Mullin stated that the scene demonstrates that Amira feels trapped between American and Iraqi cultures and that she does not represent Islam.
- Shihabi immigrated to the U.S. at age 18 and began living in New York City so she could become an actress; she used her previous experiences of culture shock in her performance as Amira. Previously she resided in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She stated she was interested in Amira & Sam because of her own background. Shihabi researched the cases of Iraqi translators attempting to come to the U.S. to prepare for her role.
- Andrew O'Hehir of Salon describes her as "a saucy, rebellious Muslim girl trying out the new roles made available to her, at least temporarily, in America." Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times described her as "a sharp-tongued hottie — hijab above, party below — given to heedless lawbreaking."
- Sam Seneca (Martin Starr)
- He is an Italian American former Green Beret sergeant. Unlike many other veterans, he does not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He loses his job as a security guard in an apartment complex after he intentionally traps some poorly-behaving tenants in an elevator. Sam has difficulty fitting into the American culture around him. He also tries to be a stand-up comic.
- O'Hehir described him as "an introspective guy with a dry wit" and "as laconic as" the fictionalized depiction of Chris Kyle in the film American Sniper. O'Hehir also described Sam as "somewhat the black sheep" in his family. Sheri Linden of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Sam's "deadpan humor makes him the perfect foil for feisty Amira." Nick Schager of The A.V. Club stated that Sam, a "basically a one-note flawless good guy", had lacked charisma and complexity, and was "far more stoic and upstanding" compared to Bertram Gilfoyle of Silicon Valley, another character played by Starr.
- Bassam Jafari (Laith Nakli)
- Charlie (Paul Wesley) - Charlie, Sam's cousin and a hedge fund manager, asks Sam to encourage veterans to invest in his financial schemes. As time passes Sam learns the true nature of Charlie's operations.
- Tom Keogh of the Seattle Times describes him as "manipulative." Linden describes him as "a stereotypical finance guy but not without compassion". Schager, however, stated that Charlie was "an untrustworthy me-first crook" who only values Sam because of his potential usefulness to him.
- Wesley suggested that Charlie have a pregnant wife in order to give him a motive for engaging in the fraud and to make him more sympathetic; Charlie's motive would be that he would have to take care of his child.
- Jack (David Rasche)
- Greg (Ross Marquand)
- Claire (Taylor Wilcox)
Mullin, a former member of the New York Army National Guard, had performed stand-up comedy and was a first responder in the September 11 attacks. He decided to create the film after hearing about friends in the U.S. military trying to get asylum for their Iraqi translators.
Nakli also served as an associate producer in recognition of the contributions he made to the film.
The director, Mullin, used suggestions from the actors to shape the film and there were periods where actors improvised.
End of movie song: Havre de Grace by Zerobridge.
The release was scheduled for early 2015. A limited theatrical release was planned, scheduled for January 30, 2015. A video on demand release was scheduled for the same day. In addition the film was to be available on home video and digital formats. Amira & Sam grossed $31,849 at the box office.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2015)
Catsoulis wrote that the film is "more successful as a portrait of veteran alienation than as a romance."
Linden wrote that it is "a considerable feat" that the film "manages to be engaging and unforced for a good portion of its running time" and that the "low-key warmth" of the main actors is among the most positive elements of the film. She added that "Nothing feels truly at stake, no matter how weighty the risks the characters face".
O'Hehir stated that despite implausibilities in the film, its romance "worked on me, or at least it made me wish that the world of Sam and Amira’s wonderful and unlikely love affair really existed. It’s a better world than ours." O'Hehir added that even though the film had good intentions and any cultural mistakes "are exceptionally mild", "If enough people see this movie, it’s possible that Mullin will come under attack for eroticizing or exoticizing an Arab woman, and/or disrespecting Islam."
Schager gave the movie a "C" ranking, arguing that it was generic even though it had a cultural divide as a theme. Schager criticized the nature of Sam Seneca.
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- Linden, Sheri. "In 'Amira & Sam,' Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi add charm." Los Angeles Times. January 29, 2015. Retrieved on November 16, 2015.
- Pathan, Nabila. "Rom-com on U.S. veteran, Iraqi refugee love set for silver screen." Al Arabiya. Tuesday January 6, 2015. Retrieved on 15 November 15, 2015.
- Harris, Will. "Martin Starr on Amira & Sam, Freaks And Geeks, odd birds, and a whole lot of fun." The A.V. Club. January 29, 2015. Retrieved on November 16, 2015.
- Luther, Jessica. ""Amira & Sam" is a Rom-Com That Deals With Immigration, Identity, and Love." Bitch. February 16, 2015. Retrieved on November 15 2015.
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- Barylski, Nicole (editor-in-chief). "INTERVIEW: Paul Wesley, Dina Shihabi, And Sean Mullin On "Amira & Sam" & The Beauty Of Improv." Hamptons.com. Retrieved on November 16, 2015. "While she speaks Arabic fluently, she speaks a Palestinian Arabic or Lebanese Arabic, so she had to learn a completely different dialect of Arabic."
- O'Hehir, Andrew. "“Amira & Sam”: Meet the rom-com antidote to “American Sniper”" (Archive). Salon. January 28, 2015. Retrieved on January 29, 2015.
- Catsoulis, Jeanette. "Take My Iraqi Niece, Please." The New York Times. January 29, 2015. Print: January 30, 2015, p. C9, New York Edition. Retrieved on February 11, 2015.
- Schager, Nick. "Amira & Sam’s cultural divide doesn’t liven up a clichéd genre piece." The A.V. Club. January 29, 2015. Retrieved on November 17, 2015.
- Noh, David. "Film Review: Amira & Sam." Film Journal International. January 30, 2015. Retrieved on February 11, 2015.
- Keogh, Tom. "‘Amira & Sam’ deals with love and casualties of war Archived February 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine." The Seattle Times. Thursday January 29, 2015. Retrieved on February 11, 2015.
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- "Amira & Sam BO".
- Sachs, Ben. "Amira & Sam " (Archive). Chicago Reader. Retrieved on November 18, 2015.
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- Oakley, Josh. "Interview: Sean Mullin, Director of Amira & Sam" (Archive). Cut Print Film. January 27, 2015.
- Oakley, Josh. "Interview: Martin Starr" (Archive). Cut Print Film. January 30, 2015.
- Wardrope, Todd. "First-time promoter brings indie film "Amira and Sam" to Minnesota" (Archive). Twin Cities Daily Planet. January 26, 2015.
- Leuck, Tristan. "Romance and the Twin Towers: “Amira and Sam”" (Archive). District, Student paper of the Savannah College of Art and Design. October 27, 2014.
- (in Arabic) ""أميرة وسام".. فيلم عن معاناة اللاجئين العرب" (Archive). Al Arabiya. January 24, 2015. 3 Rabi' al-thani 1436.