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Living Tribal in a Democracy

Filmed for over a decade, Living Tribal in a Democracy is a personal and historical documentary that sheds light on the Chaldeans, an indigenous people whose lineage dates back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia. We enter that world through the eyes of the filmmaker, her now-deceased mother, and a museum.

  • Weam Namou
    The Great American Family
  • Weam Namou
    The Great American Family
  • Weam Namou
    The Great American Family
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 33 minutes 52 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Weam Namou

Weam Namou is the Executive Director of the Chaldean Cultural Center. She's an Eric Hoffer award-winning author of 13 books, a speaker, journalist, and filmmaker. She is an Ambassador for the Authors Guild of America, the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers and hosts a weekly half hour TV show. She’s also founder of The Path of Consciousness, a spiritual and writing conference and retreat, and Unique Voices in Films, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. Her first feature documentary, The Great American Family, recently won an IndieFEST International Film Award (Women Filmmaker category) and ImpactDocs (feature documentary category). Her feature script Pomegranate was selected quarter finalist by Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope.

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Director Statement

Books, articles and movies that depict stories with either influential or simply everyday Middle Easterners are rare. Despite the large population of Arab Americans (approximately 3.7 million), our stories are underrepresented and stereotyped in the West. This is partly due to the Arab American community not providing a strong vehicle to develop and encourage art culture, especially when the topics are not patriarchy in nature. Having come from war-torn lands where creativity is oppressed and in some cases even outlawed, the Arab American community often operates on a survival and defensive mode and gives much of its attention to that. So our children, particularly our daughters, don't have the chance to view a version of themselves that's relatable and inspirational rather than cliché and stereotypical.

What Living Tribal in a Democracy attempts to do is go beyond clichés and give an honest portrayal of ordinary Middle Eastern women who endured hardships, dealt with emotional and physical distance, compounded loss, and the cloudiness of language. The film gives the women a voice, an opportunity to express their wounds and joys, and it shows how they fine-tuned their life so that their generation and the ones to come can enjoy long periods of peace, joy, and happiness.