New City Film 50 2014: Chicago’s Screen Gems

I’m really happy to be on this list. I know many of these fine talented folks and honored to be included with you all. I’m number 21!
From Film 50, 2014: Chicago’s Screen Gems:

Usama Alshaibi is studying for his MFA in the “mellow college town” of Boulder, Colorado, along with the likes of filmmakers Phil Solomon and Alex Cox, but the director of “Nice Bombs” and “Muhammad and Jane” is still in the midst of promoting his fine, fierce long-in-the-making family history “American Arab.” “Oh man,” he says when asked about any lessons from its ongoing release. “Identity Read the rest

Usama Alshaibi interview in Film Yap


The Film Yap:  “American Arab” is obviously a very personal film; can you tell us how you got started on this project and what your vision for it was at that time?

Alshaibi:  I was noticing that there was this rising hate and hostility toward Arabs and Muslims in the United States and it was typically based on racists ideas– so I wanted to make a film that exposed these racist sentiments and also exposed who Arab Americans really are. The United States of America is home to almost 4 million Arab-Americans that are very much part of the fabric … Read the rest

Chicago Reader Blog: Watching the audience with Usama Alshaibi


Alshaibi (far left) in American Arab

Last night the 21st Chicago Underground Film Festival closed with Usama Alshaibi’s American Arab, a documentary profile of various Arab immigrants and the American-born children of Arab parents. It’s the former Chicagoan’s second personal documentary (after Nice Bombs, from 2006), as well as the least confrontational work this longtime provocateur has made. (For more on his development, check out the conversation we posted last week between Alshaibi and local filmmaker Carlos Jiménez Flores.) Where his other movies have played in underground film festivals, Alshaibi hopes for American Arab to screen in community … Read the rest

Chicago Reader: Two film festivals, two indie filmmakers, one discussion on filmmaking ethics


“What it means to be American needs to be reexamined.”

Two film festivals, two indie filmmakers, one discussion on filmmaking ethics.

Usama Alshaibi and Carlos Jiménez Flores have different filmmaking styles, but they take a similar stance on mainstream depictions of race and ethnicity in popular media.

It’s officially film festival season in Chicago. As the Gene Siskel Film Center’s long-running European Union Film Festival wraps up, two similarly enduring fests, the Chicago Underground Film Festival and the Chicago Latino Film Festival, are shifting into gear this week. Though they offer wildly different programming—CLFF favors narrative features, CUFF prides itself … Read the rest