Sunday, June 18, 2006

Usama & Kristie Alshaibi

'Convulsion Expulsion' film still 2004

Usama and Kristie outside the Biograph theater
at the Chicago Underground Film Festival 2001, photograph by Fred Burkhart

Usama Alshaibi was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1969. His work in film and video has been screened at numerous film festivals and venues across the United States and abroad. He is the recipient of a generous 2005 grant from the Creative Capital Foundation for the Arts and a Playboy Foundation Award. He has completed one narrative feature titled Muhammad and Jane, and more than thirty shorts.
Usama is the founder and Director of the Z Film Festival and film/video curator for specialized screenings that have received critical accolades. In addition to reaching an ecclectic audience with his video and film work, Alshaibi's photography has been included in several print and web publications.
Usama and his wife Kristie Alshaibi returned to his birthplace in Iraq to shoot his first feature documentary titled Nice Bombs. In 2004 Usama became co-owner of Artvamp, a multi-media production company founded by Kristie.

still from "Nice Bombs", 2006

92:00 minutes, color,stereo, digital & analog video (completed April, 2006)
Shot in Chicago, Amsterdam and Baghdad

The sound of a ground shaking explosion awoke my wife and I from a deep sleep. It was about 7:00 in the morning. My cousin Tareef entered the bedroom to find a tie for work.

“What was that?” I asked. “It was a bomb. A nice bomb.” The phrase was indicative of my family's nonchalance about their situation. I had been away for twenty-four years. They were used to it. As one young boy put it, “We're Iraqis. It's normal.”

My Arabic is weak, so I spoke to my relatives in English, both on and off camera. I was surprised that, despite the language barrier, their meaning clearly broke through. I thought that most Iraqis would be reluctant to speak openly. It had been rumored that Saddam executed people for simply making jokes about him, and they were accustomed to holding their tongues. The opposite was true. Everyone wanted to speak, and they wanted Americans to hear them.

I left in 1980 in the midst of a war between Iraq and Iran. I was eleven years old and terrified of dying. The current war gave me an opportunity to return and revisit my birthplace and my family, and to explore a culture in which I feel both rooted and uprooted. I was frightened, but I felt that I had to go and see what t.v. and newspapers could not convey. I brought my camera along to document the experience.-Usama Alshaibi

NICE BOMBS will be shown in world premiere at the
AUGUST, 2006

thanks Kahlo

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