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In the early days of the Iraq War, local filmmaker Usama Alshaibi returned to his native Baghdad after 24 years away. He traveled with his father and with his wife Kristie Alshaibi, who produced his documentary about the trip, Nice Bombs. The film shows the Alshaibis in bittersweet family reunions and Usama posing with a cousin's AK. The tone shifts from optimism about the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to increasing anxiety as conditions get worse instead of better for the family.
Nice Bombs screens tonight at 8 in the sixth annual Lake County Film Festival, which runs through Tuesday at the College of Lake County, 19531 W. Washington St., Grayslake. The festival's founding director, Nat Dykeman, is gearing up to release the DVD of Nice Bombs later this month through his distribution label Cinema Obscura.
Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave of Benzfilm Group, who back in town shooting their second feature Polish Bar, were also producers of Nice Bombs. After premiering at the 2006 Chicago Underground Film Festival, where it won the best documentary prize, Berkowitz negotiated a theatrical release through 7th Art and a broadcast deal with the Sundance Channel.
Alshaibi is at work on his next film, Profane, which explores the concepts of submission in Islam and BDSM through the life of a dominatrix played by documentarian Manal Kara.