News Reviews

Djinn In the blogosphere

Two blog reviews of my work.

I really enjoyed reading this review by Sargasso Sea, a creative collective blog:

If there’s one thing I’m sick of, it’s not caring. Perhaps not caring is the same as apathy or indifference or a side effect of being a teenager, but I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that too often I read a book or see a film and by the end of it, I find myself profoundly unaffected. As if nothing had ever happened, as if my viewpoint had emerged unaltered – and that’s when familiarity becomes truly contemptible.

On Friday night I sat in the audience at the Brisbane Underground Film Festival and watched a film that was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The experimental, psycho-sexual feature Profane, directed by Iraqi-American Usama Alshaibi, is an alarming snapshot of life that transcends the genre structures of drama, humour and horror. Muna, a young Muslim dominatrix uprooted from her Middle Eastern culture, loses her sense of spirituality and sets about finding it in the back of taxi cabs, dirty apartments and Chicago side streets. Although Muna’s trials with the Quran, hijab and her “jinn” (a good/bad demon) may be foreign to a Westernised audience; her sometimes psychotic, other times peaceful state of mind is surprisingly relatable.

The film is a raw documentation of her disenfranchised cultural identity, playing with the ironies of submission and sanctity – culminating in a haunting piece of cinema that did in fact make me care a great deal. At times, Profane descends into a kaleidoscopic swirl of colour, allowing the audience to tread carefully through Muna’s eerie and horrific spiritual dreamscape. In fact, it’s quite fitting to consider the Greek etymology of the word psychedelic: originating from psykhē (soul)and dêlos (manifest). The director Alshaibi does exactly that – manifesting the soul with a mind-altering perception that challenges our own sense of identity, rendering “this mundane world sublime“.

The second piece is in Greek.  It’s about my art and my life… some of the facts are incorrect but has an accurate tone. The author emailed me the link at and I explained I could not read it. He recommended I use an online translator. Here is the result:

The genie Alshaibi

The Usama Alshaibi believes in genies. The Jinn are the demons of Islam. According to the Quran, Allah created man from clay, angels from light and jinn from smokeless fire. It is as good and evil, and said that everyone has one. Whoever loses the genie loses track of itself.Then estranged from the environment, culture and religion.  The Alshaibi finding the lost films of the genie.

Amerikanoirakinos filmmaker, was born in Baghdad in 1969 and shared his life in the U.S. and the Middle East.  The videos and films screened at many festivals around the world as a documentary about the bombing of Baghdad Nice Bombs.  Also, many hosted galleries photographic exhibitions.  His work is mainly in the documentary and experimental video and the style is basically influenced by the excess Cinema (Cinema of Transgression).

The life-like “collateral damage” in a NATO war.

Born in Baghdad but in a very early age his family moved to America when his father won a scholarship from the Iraqi government for the University of Iowa. The daily did not differ from that of his peers.  Celebrated Christmas and summers spent in the camps of indoctrination.He had not even heard the word Islam.

When he was in fourth grade studying his father’s ended and the family decided to return to Baghdad. From there they moved to Basra as his father was not a member of the Baath party and this meant that he could not find a job professor in the capital.  Basra found the war between Iran and Iraq. They had to go to Saudi Arabia again in search of the institution to teach his father. Their house in Basra was bombed nine months after their departure.

O Alshaibi has two sisters who were born in Iraq and two brothers born in Iowa.  The family emigrated when he found his father to teach. In Saudi Arabia, lived two years, then went to Jordan and from there to Abu Dhabi.  It was school student when his mother decided that she wants to study fashion and took the children back to America. His father, who could not find work in America, he stayed in Abu Dhabi. After a while they got divorced.

Since the war and the Middle East suddenly found a totally different environment where the notion of his classmates were girls. The student visa mother did not allow him to work.Necessarily made several odd jobs while traveling in Santa Fe, Madison and many other places in the U.S.. When in 1990 was 21 years old, the mother’s visa does not cover and had to return to Iraq.  In August, however, war broke out. He said he would not take part in this war (the Iraqi Army had recruit), and thus managed to get political asylum.

At that time he met the underground film movements in New York and more of the Cinema of the excess. In films of Richard Kern saw a kind of cinema that fit with its environment.Immediately impressed.

In 1994 he enrolled at the University of Chicago, Film Department. Paying tuition with loans and working as a guard in the same school. To 1995 got the green card and two years later he graduated from university. Got a job at the Historical Archive of Chicago. Furthermore, contacted filmmakers in Chicago with whom they shared common ideas about cinema. The Alshaibi had preferred to experimental cinema and most personal work of the director, influenced much of the Transcendental Cinema, despite the collective work of academic cinema.

The year 2000 was one of the founders of the Z Film Festival. As part of the festival met Kristie Drew, a young graduate of the School of Fine Arts and worked in a series of films and videos in the spirit of Richard Kern, ie naïve, full of sexual innuendo and sometimes violently, but with political references, which he characterizes “young erotic love letter.” The two became a couple and worked with many artistic projects, and always heretical underground.

The few years of normal life was interrupted by 9 / 11. The threatening phone calls and visits by the FBI (“whether you are preparing an attack against the United States?”) Became a nightmare.

His first feature film “Muhammad and Jane” is the story of an Arab and American couple living in fear of lynching.

The Alshaibi and Drew were married in 2003 and then acquired American citizenship.

In the documentary Nice Bombs became widely known. The couple Alshaibi and Drew taxidepse in Baghdad in 2004 and filmed the lives of the people who bombed the city, but also themselves in the chaos, destruction and moral dilemmas.

Follow the documentary Profane, the portrait of a dominatrix, “Master’s” sadomazochistikou sex Arab descent living in the U.S., while faithful Muslim. A great story of internal struggle with the Muslim devils, the genie. The two elements of art and natural life of Usama Alshaibi, namely the explosion of suppressed libido Cinema of transgression and the search for national identity among the Arab world and America combined in the portrait of Muna.

His new film has been working title “The American Arab” and will be released soon. Clearly the issue and why the turns: not yet found the genie.