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Kuwaiti-American Producer Noor Alfallah on Her First Feature Film and Her Son with Al Pacino

Noor Alfallah’s first feature film Little Death premieres at Sundance, cementing the Kuwaiti-American producer as a bona fide cinema industry player. She opens up about her road to the top, and why her son with Al Pacino is her greatest gift.

noor alfallah al pacino

Noor Alfallah with her son Roman Alfallah Pacino. Dress, shirts, shoes, Dolce & Gabbana; jeans, Levi’s; belt, Déhanche; jewelry, stylist’s archive; watch, Alfallah’s own. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

It’s about 10pm in Beverly Hills and Noor Alfallah’s warm and cheerful voice hides any inkling of “new-mom-with-a-film-that-just-premiered- at-Sundance” fatigue. She’s recently returned from a flash trip to Utah to promote her movie Little Death at what is recognized as the largest independent film festival in the United States. With Darren Aronofsky leading the list of producers, of which she is the only woman cited, Jack Begert as the director, and David Schwimmer and Dominic Fike in the starring roles, the “different kind of film or art film” as Alfallah describes Little Death explores the opioid crisis in America and the effects of addiction. Critics have hailed it as “ambitious and entertaining,” and Alfallah now has her sights set on Cannes for its international showing.

The producer is also a new mother to eight-month-old Roman. His dad, Al Pacino, has been working on location for the past month, meaning that Alfallah has been holding down the fort – a new villa she just moved into and where she is throwing her mother’s birthday party in the coming days. Any one of these endeavors could provoke a person to spiral, but Alfallah doesn’t come across as overwhelmed or even frazzled – just really, really happy.

Dress, undergarments, Dolce & Gabbana. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

“Ever since I had Roman, my time has become more intentional,” she starts. “When he’s sleeping, it’s my time. I can read that script or watch that TV show, or just be me. When he’s awake, I want to be there; I want to be present.” Of course, when Alfallah refers to “watching that TV show,” it’s not a case of Netflix and chill, it’s work. Her American grandmother introduced her to films at an early age and now she’s a part of the business. “They were probably films I shouldn’t have been watching as a little girl. But she was like, ‘Oh, watch Gladiator. It’s history.’ Or, ‘Watch The Patriot, it’s history,’ as an excuse for me to see it,” she recalls. Movies that deal with real life matters – like her new film – and documentaries have been her passion ever since.

noor alfallah al pacino

Dress, Alaïa; shoes, Giuseppe Zanotti; rings, Misho, Melinda Maria. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

Now, at 30, she’s a rocket fire one-to-watch producer. Her shift from cinema aficionado to behind-the-scenes decision-maker has been a decades-long work in progress. “When I was a little girl, my parents bought me a video camera. I have pictures of me at eight years old walking around making everybody in the house be a character. I always wanted to reenact the films I had watched. I loved making my own stories. I’d be in my playroom, and for hours, I would have little Disney action figures star in these different stories. I knew then that I wanted to be a film director and I ended up producing films.”

With her sister and business partner Remi at their home office

Alfallah’s journey to Little Death is a straight road of loyalty, commitment, faith, and hard work. While attending the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts film school, she met a group of students that created a company called Psycho Films. “They produced a lot of music videos. The guy, Jack Begert, directed artists like Schoolboy Q straight from college. Then he directed Kendrick Lamar, then Doja Cat and Olivia Rodrigo. Now he’s become a huge music video director. We were friends in school, and he gave me this short film called La Petite Mort,” she explains of the earliest days of Little Death, which she went on to produce as a short and later as a feature. It’s far from a one-off. Her upcoming feature film production credit will be Billy Knight starring Al Pacino, Charlie Heaton, and Diana Silvers. She’s working simultaneously on two TV shows, one with Imagine Entertainment – Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s company – and another with Steve Levitan, who produced Modern Family. “Noor was truly one of the best producers I’ve gotten to work with,” says Billy Knight’s director Alec Roth. “She understood my vision for this film and helped me build out this world that we created. I can’t wait to make more films with her.”

noor alfallah al pacino

Dress, Valentino; earrings, Alfallah’s own. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

Alfallah is a workaholic. “When I get up, I go straight to my phone and my emails. I don’t work five days a week, I work 24/7. I wish I was the kind of person that would wait until Monday morning,” she says. “As a child, I was very responsible. I was my parents’ parent. I would get up and get dressed in the morning and go into my parents’ room and tell them to take me to school.” School was a transatlantic experience for the producer. Born in Santa Monica to an American mother and Kuwaiti father, she left Los Angeles for Kuwait at age 11 and moved to Dubai at 15. “I had always gone to Kuwait to visit my family, and I love my relatives there. I have a lot of fun memories because it’s very family-oriented. Suddenly, I had cousins my age that I got to see every day.” Family nights were a daily occurrence, with meals enjoyed with aunts, uncles, cousins, and her grandparents, whom Alfallah converses with in Arabic.

Alfallah remembers that she never wanted to sit at the kids’ table. “I was born in the wrong generation,” she says. “I’ve been an old soul all my life. I have friends who are 70 years old; men and women who are just totally my friends who I love, who I’d rather be with than people my age. I’ve always been like that. I don’t know why. I think I like the wisdom, the experience, the life in them. That’s attractive to me.” The eldest of four siblings, Alfallah remembers never being a flashy child or showing off. “Even as a teenager, I wasn’t trying to show anything. I didn’t like shopping for things. I was a confident kid but I never thought I was better than anybody.” In fact, she was often the odd person out. “Returning to the States from Dubai, as a teenager, friends’ groups were already established,” she remembers, tactfully toeing the line of what was probably a very lonely period, and yet she refuses to indulge in any self-pity. Simply, she spent more time with her parents and their circles. “I think that’s how a lot of my friends ended up becoming older than me,” she shrugs.

Shirts, shoes, Dolce & Gabbana jeans, Levi’s; belt, Déhanche; jewelry, stylist’s archive; watch, Alfallah’s own. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

Fast forward to earning a master’s degree in film production at UCLA, and Alfallah found herself at a dinner one evening being introduced to Lynda Obst. “She produced Interstellar, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, and Sleepless in Seattle,” she raves. “She’s a legendary producer. A female producer. At the end of the evening, when I said good-bye, she asked me if I was looking for a job. I think I was 24 or 25 at the time. I interviewed with her, and I became vice-president of her company, Lynda Obst Productions.”

Alfallah worked on two films with Obst, one being K-Pop: Lost in America. “I found the writers for the project, and I introduced Miky [Lee] to Lynda, and that was, you know for me, as a young person, that was a big deal to make introductions or to find writers and to put projects together.” Alfallah is an outgoing woman. “I like meeting new people, and I’m not a judge. Today, I think a lot of people are kind of judgmental. I’m very curious about everybody. I’m curious about the waiter, the director, I’m curious about the artist. What they do and what makes them who they are. Even though, in a lot of ways, I am shy, the curiosity in me makes me. As a little kid, moving so many times to different countries, different schools… if I had stayed quiet, I wouldn’t have made friends. So, I had to be that person too.”

noor alfallah al pacino

Alfallah with Al Pacino

It wouldn’t be long before Alfallah would meet another guest at a dinner who would change the course of her life. Sat next to Al Pacino one evening, she recalls the two speaking amiably before parting ways. “I thought it was cool. I thought, wow, that’s Al Pacino. I went to film school, so I wasn’t dumb about who he was. He’s a very talented and unique person. But I had no intention of thinking like, oh, he is going to be my son’s father one day,” she says. They didn’t exchange numbers that evening nor see each other again for a year, until they serendipitously met at the restaurant E Baldi.

Slowly, Alfallah and Pacino established a friendship. “Then the pandemic hit,” she recalls. “Al lives down the street from my house and we started spending every day together, playing chess and watching movies. It was like film school with Al Pacino. ‘Did you ever see Scarface?’ he asked me. ‘No,’ I answered, ‘Though I know the lines. Say hello to my little friend.’” Together they watched a plethora of films. “He showed me some obscure movies he was in like one with Marthe Keller called Bobby Deerfield, which is now my favorite of all his films,” she shares. Of their friendship she says, “I guess, it just became something more.”

When Alfallah learned that she was to become a mother, she remembers feeling very nervous. She had recently emerged from a major health battle. In 2021, she was diagnosed with a parathyroid tumor and was conscious of the potential of a high-risk pregnancy. Sure enough, right before giving birth, she received another alarming health verdict – she was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication whereby high liver enzymes can cause seizures, during or right after giving birth. Today, she has a bird’s-eye view of the trauma of being hooked up to bags of magnesium, the panic over her low platelet count, not being able to be alone with her son in the first days of his life should she seizure, and the media storm surrounding the birth due to Roman’s father being among the world’s foremost actors. Alfallah pauses and her voice drops, “When I look back on it now, I wish I could have enjoyed my pregnancy more.”

Alfallah at the Little Death premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Getty

Despite the harrowing start, the present days are filled with joy. “Becoming a mom – to be honest – it’s greater than I ever could imagine. Roman has just been the greatest gift from God, a thousand times better than what I ever thought he would be. Every day I look at him, I just know I’m so blessed. I say Mashallah, because I’m a little superstitious. Even when I got into Sundance – Mashallah. Or, we’re going to get into Cannes. Inshallah.”

Alfallah’s cross-cultural Arab-American background blended with Pacino’s Italian heritage translates to their son being bathed in the love of family. “I think that there are a lot of similarities between Italians and Arabs,” she affirms. “And because he’s an Italian Arab, I think he’s for sure going to be a soccer player. No, I’m just kidding,” she laughs. “I don’t know. He can be whatever he wants to be. His dad, of course, wants him to be whoever he wants to be… I think acting is in his genes though.” Alfallah’s story unfolds and her future has more surprises in store, but her center is steady. “As long as I’m with my family or my son, I have everything that makes me feel secure and good.”

noor alfallah al pacino

Dress, Attico; necklace, Jennifer Meyer; rings, Alfallah’s mother’s heirloom, Levian. Photo: Christian Hogstedt

Originally published in the March 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

Style: Erin Walsh
Hair: Tracey Cunningham
Makeup: Rimma Mkrtchian, Jessica Mashadian
Producer: Ankita Chandra

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