From left are Osamah Sami, Kamel El Basha, Maia Abbas and Safia Arain.
Filming has begun in Western Sydney on ABC drama House of Gods, with co-creator Osamah Sami leading the cast alongside Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha and Maia Abbas.
Announced as part of the broadcaster’s upfronts in November, the six-part series follows the lives of a prominent Iraqi family in Australia as they grapple with newfound power, politics, and privilege when their charismatic patriarch, Sheikh Mohammad (El Basha) is elected Head Cleric of a local mosque.
The cast also includes Safia Arain, Simon Elrahi, Priscilla Doueihy, and Majid Shokor.
A Matchbox Pictures production, House of Gods was co-created by Sami and Shahin Shafaei, and developed by Blake Ayshford, with the trio writing the episodes with Sarah Bassiuoni.
Ayshford is also an executive producer, joining Debbie Lee, Sheila Jayadev, and ABC EPs Sally Riley and Brett Sleigh. Bree-Anne Sykes serves as producer, while Fadia Abboud is on board as director.
They are joined in the creative team by cinematographer Sky Davies, production designer Roslyn Durnford, costume designer Wendy Cork, hair and make-up artist designer Rose Saffioti, editor Nicholas Holmes, and casting director Allison Meadows.
Speaking about the series, Sami said his own experience provided the foundation for the story.
“Growing up as the son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Australia and spending most of my young adult life in a mosque, I craved to see my beloved Arab/Iraqi community reflected in mainstream culture,” he said.
“This longing gave birth to House of Gods – a celebration of my community with all its colour and flaws. After an arduous and joyous development phase, I feel both proud and grateful to see the series being realised for the screen. Now over to the audience, inshallah.”
El Basha, known for winning the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival for his role in L’insulte, said it was an honour to be joining the production.
“Islam and Arab Muslims in the West is not an easy topic to deal with – it is a great challenge for any actor,” he said.
“The script is written very well with great detail and authenticity, covering a variety of characters, raising important topics and opening a wide window to look at this community and, I hope, better understand it.”
House of Gods will air later this year on ABC and ABC iview.