Bombshell: Iraqi Secret Videos and Artifacts From a Fallen Regime 15:35 minutes; video; color; black & white Completed March 2004

This video is compiled from several appropriated clips from VCD’s (Video Compact Discs) that are sold in Baghdad.

Made in Chicago Award Winner at Chicago Underground Film Festival 2004

Part of Video Babylon, screening Iraqi video program by Usama Alshaibi at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, November 20th, 2004

“On one side of a split screen, Saddam Hussein smiles. He’s celebrating the birthday of his youngest daughter in a lavish palace party. The revelers even sing “Happy Birthday” — in English — to the beaming child. On the opposite side of the screen, in a harrowing juxtaposition, Iraqis are beaten and tortured. One sequence shows blindfolded prisoners of Saddam’s regime, strapped with explosives, led into the country and blown apart by remote control. Chicago’s Usama Alshaibi, an Iraqi-American filmmaker, pieced together the short film, “Bombshell: Iraqi Secret Videos and Artifacts From a Fallen Regime” from video compact discs bought from Baghdad street vendors for as little as 50 cents. “It’s a type of evidence,” says Alshaibi, 34, best known for Chicago’s erotic-themed Z Film Festival, which he co-curates with his wife, Kristie. “All the drama of the occupation, the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein — all of these things were not witnessed by Iraqis in the streets. They were witnessed through TV or on these videos,” he says.” -“Back to Baghdad,” By Rob K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

“…Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi also makes some striking juxtapositions with his work “Bombshell: Iraqi Secret Videos and Artifacts from a Fallen Regime,” which split-screens a smiling Saddam Hussein birthday party and underground torture videos as well as images of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein in 1983. “‘Bombshell’ is saying many things at once,” explains Alshaibi, who lived in Iraq as a child and just recently visited his homeland. “I’m just showing the history of Iraq: the U.S. intervention, but also keep in mind that Saddam was the United States’ main guy, we helped him produce chemical weapons, so it’s the schizophrenia of war and Iraq as a symbol of many things.” Alshaibi, who just received his U.S. citizenship in May 2003 and lives in Chicago, now feels more confident about using his art to engage with current politics. Before he became an American, he says, “I thought if I said the wrong thing, they were going to put me in an orange suit and ship me away.” He is currently working on “Nice Bombs,” a feature documentary about his return to Iraq as an adult. “I have to admit that when the U.S. was about to overthrow Sadaam, I was ecstatic,” he says. “But that honeymoon is quickly fading. As Iraqis will say, ‘The only good thing that the United States has done was getting rid of Saddam. Everything else they’ve completely messed up.”– American Prejudice: Arab Films Try to Breakthrough Bias, by Anthony Kaufman, Indiewire (November 2004)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dance_p.jpg Screenings
Atrocity Exhibition, Dispatches From Iraq, Other Cinema (2005)
The Eleventh Annual Cucalorus Festival of Independent Film (2005)
Video Babylon, , Gene Siskel Films Center, Chicago (2004)
The 8th Rencontres internationales Paris/Berlin (2004)
Chicago Underground Film Festival (Award Winner 2004)
Camp Film Festival (U.S.A 2004)
Version >04 invisibleNetworks (Chicago 2004)
Cherry Bomb DVD Release Party, Double Door (Chicago 2004)

Description of clips:

  • Belly Dancers with Iraqi Chobi music
  • Chemical Ali and Iraqi Ba’ath Officials torturing and killing several men
  • Saddam Hussein and his Family celebrating the Birthday of his youngest daughter Hallah
  • Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein 12/ 20, 1983
  • Iraqi Ba’ath Officials executing men with explosives taped to their chests
  • Tribal party for Saddam’s relatives.Two women doing a ‘Kowly’ dance in a tent
  • Uday Hussein’s Birthday party with his machine gun.
  • Iraqi soldiers being punished – Saddam Hussein propaganda music videos– months before the US occupation
  • Iraqi Information Minister
  • Footage of unknown wounded US soldier in Iraq
  • Baghdad bombings March 2003
  • Unknown amateur video footage in Baghdad as US forces enter the city
  • Pictures of Iraqi casualties and death from US bombings
  • Iraqi news of captured US soldier’s uniform
  • US soldiers arresting Iraqis – Iraqi Ba’ath Military in downtown Baghdad – Saddam Hussein’s statue toppled in Al-Fardos Square, central Baghdad (April 9, 2003)
  • Saddam Hussein’s last public appearance in the Azzamya section (April, 2003)
  • Mass graves discovered after the fall of Saddam
  • French and US news footage – US troops at the Babylon ruins
  • Unknown explosions in Baghdad at night