Angela Sarafyan To Topline Natalie Shirinian’s Semi-Autobiographical Dramedy ‘Ponchik’

EXCLUSIVE: Angela Sarafyan (Westworld) will exec produce and star in Ponchik, a semi-autobiographical dramedy marking the narrative feature debut of writer-director Natalie Shirinian.

Set to go into production next spring, the film delves into the life of a 30-year-old first-generation Armenian American (Sarafyan) residing in the neighborhood of Little Armenia, Los Angeles with her immigrant parents. Over the course of the film, our protagonist grapples with the intricate interplay between her traditional Armenian heritage, her familial ties, and her own authentic identity. Tensions rise as she finds herself at odds with her mother. As the story unfolds, viewers are drawn into the world of creativity and introspection, witnessing the journey towards self-realization and fulfillment of aspirations, all while navigating the intricate dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship.

More from Deadline

Elizabeth Baudouin and Shirnian will serve as producers of the project, which was a finalist at the 2023 Academy-qualifying Flickers’ Rhode Island Film Festival Screenplay Competition.

“PONCHIK is a deeply personal exploration of identity and culture, and a departure from the expected narratives of Armenian films to the silver screen,” Shirinian told Deadline. “My hope with Ponchik is to break molds and shatter stereotypes bringing an inside look at Armenian American culture through the authentic lens of having an Angela Sarafyan play the first lead role for an Armenian actress in America.”

Widely known for her series regular role as Westworld park host Clementine on HBO’s Westworld, Sarafyan will next be seen in Jack Begert’s debut feature Little Death, produced by Darren Aronofsky, which won the NEXT Innovator Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Most recently wrapping a role opposite Viola Davis in Amazon’s G20, she also will be seen coming up in Jose Eduardo Belmonte’s thriller Quase Deserto, Justine Bateman’s experimental film FEEL, and the drama Billy Knight opposite Al Pacino. Additionally, the actress has been set for a recurring role in the Prime Video series El Gato.

A director, actor, writer, and producer, Shirinian’s latest film was ALOK, the docu short on performance artist and activist Alok Vaid-Menon, which premiered at Sundance 2024. She produced the pic alongside her wife Elizabeth Baudouin, with Alex Hedison directing and Jodie Foster serving as EP. Shirinian made her directing debut with the award-winning 2016 doc Interior Motives, exploring the interconnectedness of fashion and interior design, and has also been behind shorts like iO, A contemplation on Self Love and Parev Mama (Hello Mother).

Sarafyan is repped by Innovative Artists and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller; Shirinian by CAA and Ramo Law.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.