Romantic comedy “Cousins” mainstream crossover for Assyrian producers’ Strategic Entertainment

Assyrian-language film producers Strategic Entertainment take a step toward the mainstream market with the production of “Cousins,” their new mixed Assyrian- and English-language romantic comedy.

“Cousins” marks Strategic Entertainment’s first effort to reach audiences beyond its core ethnic constituency. It’s the company’s first feature with a significant portion in English, and the first that will feature English subtitles for the Assyrian dialogue.

“We might do three to five more Assyrian films and then go mainstream,” said writer-director Martin Khoshaba.

Jacob Alexander stars in “Cousins”

Crystal Dinha (“Las Vegas”) and Jacob Alexander (“Poetic Emancipation”) star as a young couple in love but kept apart by class differences.

“The story really targets the younger crowd but the older crowd will love it just as much,” Khoshaba said. “I’ve always been a firm believer that parents shouldn’t step in their children’s way when they really like someone because the boy or girl they like are not as fortunate as they are.”

“Cousins” also features Abbee Sarkis and Hani Nuri. Executive producer is Billy Haido, Khoshaba’s partner in Strategic Entertainment.

Producers are Ron Rehana of Hal-a-Bat Films and H. Adoni Esho of CampaCinema. Esho and Rehana were director and producer, respectively, of last year’s Assyrian- and English-language drama “Poetic Emancipation.” Assistant producer is Jeremy Mangin.

“Cousins” shoots for 23 days in June on DV on a $75,000 to $100,000 budget. Principal photography is in Chicago, with additional shooting in Detroit.

Through Strategic Entertainment, Khoshaba directed the 2003 comedy “Akh Min Khimyani,” which he bills as the first Assyrian-language film ever produced in the U.S., and the 2004 drama “Cost of Happiness.”

He plans to follow the same self-distribution model for “Cousins” that he employed on his two prior pictures: premiering here, touring the picture to Assyrian communities in California, Arizona, Michigan, Europe and Australia, then releasing it on DVD.