American Arab

– February 9, 2014

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CLOSING NIGHT!

American Arab Usama Alshaibi, USA, 2013

60 min., Video

“The Chicago Underground Film Festival is proud to present the Midwest premiere of American Arab, the latest film from long-time festival alumnus Usama Alshaibi (Nice Bombs) and his first made under the auspices of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters). Weaving his own “coming of Arab” experiences into the life stories of several diverse characters, Alshaibi takes a candid and provocative look at the contradictions of Arab identity in post 9/11 America. He recounts how his adult years were shaped by an altered perception of his heritage. As a child his ethnicity was the source of curiosity, but as U.S. relations with Iraq soured, fascination turned to suspicion and even violence. To better understand his conflicted feelings about his adopted homeland, Usama looks to the stories of other Arabs living in the United States. We meet Amal Abusumayah, an American-born Muslim woman who was the victim of a hate crime shortly after the 2009 Ft. Hood shootings; the Jassar family, who fled the violence of Iraq and have just begun settling into their new home on Chicago’s North Side; and finally Marwan Kamel, a young punk musician who embraces both the Arab and American aspects of his identity arguing for “the space to be complicated.” Showcasing the diversity and complexity of Arab voices in the United States, American Arab sparks a frank conversation about identity and perception.” – Chicago Underground Film Festival

Preceded By:

Encounters With Your Inner Trotsky Child Jim Finn, USA, 2014

9 min., Video

“Another chapter in the parallel-leftist-universe of Jim Finn, this video appears to be part of a communist self-help videotape series made in the early 1990’s. The series author, Lois Severin, was responding to the move from mass sociopolitical engagement of the 60’s and 70’s to the personal fulfillment fantasies of the 80’s – the Jane Fonda-ization of the Left. But these tapes were not merely a desperate attempt for Trotskyites to stay relevant in the neoliberal era. They were mimicking the Christian fundamentalist activists who organized in churches and community centers in the 70’s. While those anti-government right-wing activists prepared the ground for the so-called Reagan Revolution, Encounters with Your Inner Trotsky Child was an attempt to radicalize the personal fulfillment and self-help scene and prepare the ground for whatever is coming in the 21st Century.”- Video Data Bank