They hate us for our freedom
The director in a scene from Nice Bombs…
Chicago-based Iraqi director Usama Alshaibi seems to be one of the most prolific Arab filmmakers in the American independent film scene—and he’s almost certainly the most experimental. Working often in close collaboration with his wife Kristie, Alshaibi has jump-started the canon of what we might term transgressive Arab-American film.
In his over 50 short films, Alshaibi has updated the techniques of transgressors like William Burroughs and Kenneth Anger to transmit his obsessions with culture-clash, technology, religion, violence, sexuality and identity. He’s finished four features, two of which deal with porn and STDs, one with cross-cultural relationships and another with the personal reality of post-Saddam Iraq. He has three in production or post-production now, two of which—American Arab and Baghdad, Iowa—portray growing up Arab in the heartland in the in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and today, and the third, Profane, about a Muslim dominatrix in spiritual crisis.
As the news media shamelessly reduces the complex relationship between America and its Arab and Muslim communities into a dopey controversy over where to build a friggin’ cultural center or mosque, we need the perspective and imagination of Alshaibi’s work now more than ever.
Here’s a clip from American Arab…