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a dedicated blog covering events and screenings of Directors Lounge 2007

Wednesday, February 7

Nice Bombs • Usama Alshaibi • Mo mon 12 02

• 20 h • 8 pm Nice Bombs by Usama Alshaibi


Nice Bombs shows filmmaker Usama Alshaibi as he returns to Baghdad to reunite with his family after nearly 24 years. This documentary navigates through his unique relationship to an Iraq that is much different than the country of his childhood.
Usama captures the conflicting reactions to the conditions of life in Baghdad.
Through a wide range of opinions and experiences he provides a broad panorama of voices long neglected under Saddam’s regime.
His cousin Tareef enters the room upon hearing an explosion. “It’s a bomb. A Nice Bomb,” he explains. The phrase is indicative of his family’s nonchalance about their situation. As one young boy put it, “We’re Iraqis. It’s normal.” With humor and resilience Nice Bombs explores Usama’s dual role as both Iraqi and American.

• Usama Alshaibi US/IQ Nice Bombs 92 min, DV, 2006

"...humanizes the situation on the ground..."
-Johnathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader, Critic’s Choice

" ...a surprisingly warm first-person video diary...edited with grace and tact.”
-Michael Philips, Chicago Tribune

“Among the many Iraq docs I've seen over the last few years, Usama Alshaibi's
‘Nice Bombs’ offers a refreshing new perspective... Westerners will likely
sympathize with Alshaibi and his family in a much deeper way.Because,
after all, he is one of us, too.”
-Anthony Kaufman, IndieWIRE

"It pulls off the rare feat of being 'important' without forcing a political agenda
down the audience’s throat.”
-Time Out Chicago

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 TV and newspapers could not convey. I brought my camera along to document the experience.

• Usama Alshaibi US/IQ Nice Bombs 92 min, DV, 2006

Winner Best Documentary at The Chicago Underground Festival 2006

Director – Usama Alshaibi
Producers – Kristie Alshaibi, Ben Berkowitz, Ben Redgrave
Executive Producers – William Haddad, Justin Moyer, Studs Terkel
Cinematography – Usama Alshaibi, Kristie Alshaibi
Editors – Amy Cargill, Michael Palmerio, Usama Alshaibi
Music – Naeif Rafeh, Issa Boulos, Omar al-Musfi, Crumpler, Strepsata, Andy Ortmann,
Sound Mix – Jacob Ross, Experimental Sound Studio
Color Correction – Bob Sliga

Usama Alshaibi at placeboKatz here and here


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