Video Babylon

Usama Alshaibi, a Chicago video maker who was born in Baghdad, assembled this program of video clips that offer an alternate perspective on the Iraqi experience. Most are in Arabic without subtitles, and some are music videos: one, shot at sea, shows boatmen backing up a pop singer; another is a Ba'athist ditty extolling the virtues of Saddam Hussein; a third, The Saddam Rap, lampoons the fallen dictator. Most unsettling is a short whose split screen contrasts innocuous home movies of Saddam with footage of his torture victims. Alshaibi will also present a 12-minute excerpt from his work in progress Nice Bombs, a DV documentary about his family's return to Iraq after nearly 24 years abroad. Interviews with stoic residents and bewildered American soldiers are shot in a distinctively raw style that suits the edginess of the times, leaving one curious for more firsthand testimony from those weathering the occupation. 52 min.

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