Usama Alshaibi was born in Baghdad, Iraq and spent his formative years living between the United States and the Middle East. He’s an active filmmaker and artist, who works in documentary and fiction, often blurring the line between the two. His films have screened widely at underground and international film festivals, media exhibitions and museums. He’s received grants from organizations such as the MacArthur Foundation, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Playboy Foundation, and the Creative Capital Foundation for the Arts.

His first feature documentary, Nice Bombs, which was shot in Baghdad right after the start of the United States invasion of Iraq, had a theatrical release in Chicago and New York, and a broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel. His experimental narrative film Profane won several awards, including best feature film at the Boston Underground Film Festival. His second documentary feature, American Arab, had its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), and was nationally broadcast on television through PBS World Channel. He’s been producing and directing short films and music videos since 1998. Some of his prominent short films include Soon, Here, The Desire, The Muslim Meme, The Flowering, Baghdad, Iowa, Allahu Akbar, Dream of Samarra and Dance Habibi Dance.

Usama lived in Chicago for over 17 years and worked as a digital archivist at the Chicago History Museum, and as a radio host and producer for Chicago Public Media. Currently, Usama is a Teaching Associate Professor at Colorado State University.

Artist Statement while the Earth Burns