Made in the community, for the community, by the community.
ARABICA is a dramatic web-series set in a tight knit immigrant Arab community in a suburban enclave of Chicago dubbed “Little Palestine.” The eight-episode series follows a rotating cast of friends and neighbors from the community, as they try to get on with their day-to-day lives, while grappling with the banal but persistent reality of state surveillance.
ARABICA explores the tensions around religion, gender and race that embroil this neighborhood with small-town vibes, while simultaneously weaving a love letter to the millennial first-gen experience of being culturally and linguistically “in between.” This micro-budget production filmed on location in Bridgeview, IL — an Arab-American community in Chicago’s south-west suburbs — embraces an unapologetic point of view from within the community and stars mostly local community member non-actors.
Sohib Boundaoui Writer, Director, Actor
Sohib Boundaoui is an Algerian-American filmmaker based in Chicago. His filmmaking debut was the Tribeca IF/Then short documentary, “Generation One”, which explores the narratives of millennial Arab Americans living in Chicago. Sohib was an Associate Producer and additional camera on the documentary film THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Sohib is an alumnus for Kartemquin Films’ program, Diverse Voices in Documentary, and Youth FX’s program, Next Doc. “Arabica” is his second project and narrative debut.
Baha Amra is a Palestinian-American writer and social worker from Bridgeview, Illinois, also known as Little Palestine. He is a case manager with Arab-American Family Services by day, and writer and video editor by night. Baha’s worked as an Associate and Line Producer on the Tribeca IF/Then documentary “Generation One”, and served as the Assistant Director and Producer on the original web series “Arabica”. Baha is currently producing a podcast entitled “BMB Pirates”.
Cai Thomas is a Liberty City native whose curiosity was born and nurtured in the “Moonlight” neighborhood. She’s a Chicago based filmmaker and journalist interested in stories at the intersection of identity, self-determination and location. Cai is a NeXt Doc, Sundance Ignite and Kartemquin DVID fellow and was a Berlin Capital Fulbright awardee in 2017. She's an alum of CBS Sunday Morning and the Washington Post/APM Reports podcast, Historically Black. Her film "Change The Name" premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. Cai is a documentary filmmaker most days but was elated to experiment in the narrative space on Arabica to support her dear friend Sohib whom she met through the NeXt Doc Fellowship. She hopes to direct narrative work of her own soon.
Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago. She has reported for BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, VICE, and CNN and was the recipient of a first place Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting in Yemen. She directed a short film on hijabi hair salons for the HBO LENNY docu-series, which premiered as an official selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Assia has a Masters degree in journalism from New York University and is fluent in Arabic. THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED is her feature directorial debut.
Ismail Musa Taher
Actor, Script Supervisor
Ismail Musa Taher is an Arab-American Actor and Influencer. He 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 is also well known on social media where he has millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram @ishtaher. Taher has trained at the Second City Chicago, Acting Studio Chicago, and in Meisner Technique at Black Box Acting Studio. Taher was recently cast to play ALI in the Film POMEGRANATE, set to film in Summer of 2021.
Nada Abdelrahim is a librarian & creative interested in the intersection of community, archives, art, and information agency.
Mohammad Abdullah is an Arab-American realtor and personal trainer on the southwest side of Chicago. Mohammad, was originally born in Palestine, and grew up in the Bridgeview community. He first appeared on screen as the main character in the Tribeca IF/Then documentary, “Generation One”, and has made his acting debut in the web series"Arabica".
Mona Aburmishan is an international comedian based in her hometown of Chicago. She performs, emcees, and produces comedy shows, competitions and events in major clubs, theaters and universities around the world. In addition to comedy, Mona is a sought-after speaker for her expertise in using stand-up comedy to bring joy and affinity to various socio-political topics in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Mona has a Master’s in International Development and is fluent in English, German and Arabic and performs in these languages. She is currently working with the University of Chicago to teach medical students comedy skills to relate better to their patients and overcome racism and income disparities.
Amin Elsaeed, also known as The Rapping Dentist on Instagram was born in Sudan but was raised in Chicago. He has taken a liking to the arts since a young age through his expression through sketches and eventually found the microphone to be his most recent outlet for artistic expression. Amin takes his full time job as general dentist and meshes important oral health information with hip hop covers to entertain and educate the masses. "Arabica" serves as Amin's debut foray into the world of acting another addition to his portfolio.
Arti Ishak is a Chicago based interdisciplinary artist and community organizer. Recent acting credits include Kiss (Haven), Witch (Writers), Buried Child (Writers), Men on Boats (American Theater Company), Venus in Fur (Circle Theatre), Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno (Second City), and A Story Told in Seven Fights (Neo-Futurists). TV: Chicago Med (NBC). Recent directing credits include workshop development of Mosque4Mosque (Steppenwolf), and short films Shukran Bas (Means to Produce), Sun On Ice (Jackalope). Arti is a staff member with The Chicago Inclusion Project and an organizer with MENASA MidWest. She loves being an Ensemble Member with Sideshow Theatre and is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.
From Amman to Chicago, Bilal Shouly is a bilingual Palestinian-Jordanian rapper, singer and songwriter. His socio-political approach to music ushered in an intimate, honest and new sound to the music scene in MENA. Shouly released his first mixtape ShuBasha in 2016, and Ouffwhite with Synaptik & Al Basha in 2017. His debut album "The Empty Quarter" was released in July of 2020. He garnered over 5 million views on YouTube, 5 million listens on SoundCloud, and 150K on DSPs and counting. His music is featured on multiple editorial playlists on Spotify, Anghami and Apple Music.
Murjan Abdullah is a 13 year old Palestinian-American actor from Bridgeview, IL. When she's not in school, she spends most of her time watching anime and hanging out with friends. She’s optimistic that “Arabica” is just the start of her bright acting career.
Bassam Abdelfattah is a film and stage actor who lives in Chicago and has worked with several well-known Chicago theaters as well as The Public Theater in New York City. His television work includes Showtime's The Chi, Amazon's Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, and Fox Television's NeXt. He has also been in several indie films. Bassam recently started his own production company through which he wants to one day tell authentic stories of marginalized people.
Omar Rachid is 21 years of age, and is currently studying graphic design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was born and raised in Chicago, and he is originally from Syria. Omar considers himself a photography connoisseur, and is passionate about capturing moments that tell a story. He plays sports competitively, and in his free time he enlightens himself with videos and Call of Duty.
Line Producer, Actor
Jumha Aburezeq is a Palestinian-American who grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago. He's Head Coach and Founder at StoopidFit and is passionate in diversifying the role Arab-Americans play in the modern western world.
Assistant Camera, Actor
Asad Mobin is a native of Bridgeview, IL and spent 15 years in the neighborhood during his formative years. He developed a love for filmmaking and photography with the neighborhood kids during his teenage years. Although he currently works full time in the tech industry, you can catch him working regularly on his B&W photography hobby in and around the city.
Tarek Amrouch is an Algerian American musician and co-owner of the Label Under Dog Music Group. Born in North Africa raised in Chicago and now based out of San Francisco, has been working as an executive producer and song writer, with a focus on artist and sound development. His debut project, an EP entitled "Victory Through Harmony" is available on all streaming platforms, and was made this year with an impressive team of award winning engineers. Tarek is currently a senior business development manager at a leading Silicon Valley consulting firm working with startups to enterprise companies.
Son of a Libyan revolutionary, Kayem is a Chicago-based hip-hop artist who was born into the struggle. His father was a political prisoner who helped form a pro-democracy movement after escaping prison. Kayem’s first trip to Libya, after spending a lifetime of advocacy in exile, was filmed in the docu-series “Sing Freedom.” Yahoo! Music listed Kayem’s showcase at South by Southwest 2017 as “The 6 Best Things We Saw at SXSW” and he was listed as one of CNN’s “Most Interesting People.”
Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, theatrical performer, producer, and educator. He has collaborated with artists internationally, composed and consulted for many cultural music projects in film and theater, appeared as a guest artist on several works, and is executive director of Intercultural Music Production in Chicago. Ronnie has a degree in Global Music Studies from DePaul University and is a teaching artist with Chicago Public Schools, Global Voices Initiative, and Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, a faculty member at Old Town School of Folk Music, and a guest lecturer at universities.
Omar Aburumman is a Jordanian-American born and raised in Bridgeview, Illinois, the neighborhood from "Arabica". He graduated from Governors State University with a Bachelor's in political science, and is an aspiring attorney. He is currently the owner of Six Days Auto Sales.
Omar the Barber
Omar is a Palestinian-American barber, and a household name in the Chicago Arab community. His barbershop, My Barber, is widely known across the city, as he regularly opens his shop up for various productions, and creative collaborations. Omar had his acting debut in "Arabica".
Younis Dhaher, also known as Yuno Barz, is a Comedian, Artist, and Writer based in Chicago. He was born in Baghdad, Iraq and immigrated to the United States when he was a kid. Younis brings a unique perspective on stage and doesn’t shy away from any topic. Outside of comedy, Younis has also dropped a music album with artist Kyle Corum called “Discontinued” that is available on all streaming platforms.