Hello friends,

The 13th Chicago Underground Film Festival is just around the corner (August 17-24th at the Music Box Theatre). We’re currently updating our website and the complete festival schedule will be available there very soon. But we wanted to let you all know about the great WORLD PREMIERE screening we have slated for opening night.

The 2006 Chicago Underground Film Festival Kicks Off with the World Premiere of the documentary feature‘ NICE BOMBS’ by Chicago based filmmaker Usama Alshaibi’. The film is Usama’s personal story documenting his return to Baghdad to reunite with his family after nearly 24 years. In January 2004, shortly after becoming an American citizen, Usama journeyed with his wife Kristie from Chicago to Baghdad where he was reunited with family members, friends and former neighbors in an Iraq much different than the country of his childhood. Inspired by writer Studs Terkel and Internet diarist Salaam Pax, he explores with humor and resilience the culture, customs and complex politics of Iraqis in a post-Saddam era. All the while, the United States occupation remains a constant presence in the background. Capturing the conflicting reactions to the conditions of life in Baghdad. Through a wide range of opinions and experiences he provides a broad panorama of voices long neglected under Saddam’s regime.

“The sound of a ground-shaking explosion awoke my wife and I from a deep sleep. It was about 7:00 in the morning. My cousin Tareef entered the bedroom to find a tie for work. “What was that?” I asked. “It was a bomb. A nice bomb.” The phrase was indicative of my family’s nonchalance about their situation. I had been away for twenty-four years. They were used to it. As one young boy put it, “We’re Iraqis. It’s normal.”

My Arabic is weak so I spoke to my relatives in English, both on and off camera. I was surprised that, despite the language barrier, their meaning clearly broke through. I thought that most Iraqis would be reluctant to speak openly. It had been rumored that Saddam executed people for simply making jokes about him and they were accustomed to holding their tongues. The opposite was true. Everyone wanted to speak, and they wanted Americans to hear them.

I left in 1980 in the midst of a war between Iraq and Iran. I was eleven years old and terrified of dying. The current war gave me an opportunity to return and revisit my birthplace and my family, and to explore a culture in which I feel both rooted and uprooted. I was frightened, but I felt that I had to go and see what TV and newspapers could not convey. I brought my camera along to document the experience.” – Usama Alshaibi

Following Nice Bombs please join us for our opening night party at Schubas (3159 N Southport) with musical guests Bobby Conn and the Glass Gypsies, Roommate and DJ Hunter Hussar

To purchase tickets for the film and after party go here:

Or if you just want tickets for the film:

The complete festival schedule will be posted soon at http://www.cuff.org/schedule

Thanks we hope to see you at the festival!

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