Boy from War
Iraqi-born Director Usama Alshaibi's 6th feature film will also be his first animation. Help us create an insightful and psychedelic trip into the mind of a young Arab boy as he navigates war and coming of age in the 1980s Iowa City punk scene.
Inclusion StatementIn this time when travel bans are being imposed on Muslims, while the refugee crisis is at it’s peak, it is urgent that we listen to the voices of those displaced by war. We need to hear first hand stories from those told to “go back home” when that home is too dangerous or no longer exists.
About The Project
BOY FROM WAR
From LSD fueled encounters with Darth Vader and Saddam Hussein, to Iranian pilots shot down into Iowa City classrooms, Usama Alshaibi blends images and memories to give the audience a taste of what it was like living between two cultures. It's part refugee story, part 1980s nostalgia, and a unique look into the world of a traumatized teenaged boy as he navigates the Middle East and America, never really fitting into either.
In his first documentary, Nice Bombs, Usama took us to visit his family in Baghdad as they tried to live their lives around the U.S. invasion. In American Arab he showed us what it's like to be a target of hate in the very land that gave you refuge. This time he tells his personal story of coming of age as a young immigrant escaping from war.
Usama’s work has screened at festivals across the globe (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Big Sky, New York Underground Film Festival) and been broadcast on the Sundance Channel, PBS, and CBC. He has a track record of completing insightful films around issues of Middle Eastern identity and the effects of politics on the lives of ordinary people.
Artvamp was started by his wife Kristie in 2000 and has since produced his most provocative and experimental work, like The Amateurs and Profane. Our goal is to tap into the fairly new genre of animated memoir (Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir being recent examples) to create a film that informs through vicarious experience. It will be emotionally impactful, and also a bit psychedelic, drawing the audience into the mind and private world of our young Iraqi protagonist. We’re pulling together two threads of Usama’s filmmaking career: personal documentary and an underground/fringe aesthetic. There will be sex, drugs, and punk rock. There will political uprisings, hangings, and bombs shaking the ground. But there will also be the usual joys, fears, disappointments, embarrassments, discoveries and friendships of growing into young adulthood.
WHAT DO WE NEED?
We’ve already received a small grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, which allowed us to begin the process and put together a short demo. As you can see from the video, we are now doing roughly animated storyboards (called "animatics") of all of the key scenes of the film, and working with animators to get a sense of the look and feel of the final animation.
Our current goal is to raise a minimum of $20,000 to finish the storyboards and animatics. These will be the blueprint of the film's narrative. We will then take these to film markets in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East to find production partners and investors to complete the film.
Our stretch goal is $30,000 to pay for international travel to film markets across the globe to pitch the film!
In this time when travel bans are being imposed on Muslims, while the refugee crisis is at its peak, it is urgent that we listen to the voices of those displaced by war. We need to hear first hand stories from those told to “go back home” when that home no longer exists. These perspectives are so crucial in understanding what is going on in the world.
However, showing a time and place for which there are no existing images (when, for example a family like Usama's is too focused on surviving the devastation of war to document their experience) requires a special set of creative tools. Unlike classic documentary, with interviewers, subjects and historical archives, we are dependent entirely on the recreation of events and stories, and, in the case of destroyed homes and cities, even the locations themselves. Animation is uniquely challenging in terms delivering a narrative, but it also has a unique elasticity to play with physical reality and let an emotional reality take the lead. It requires a large team of artists focused on the same vision to make this happen. This is our most ambitious project yet, and we hope, with your help, we can make it our most powerful and important.
We will be updating frequently with videos and images that will give our audience a better sense of the mood and content of the movie. Please be sure to share and post this campaign far and wide to help launch this project to the next level!
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About This Team
Usama Alshaibi (director) was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1969 and spent his formative years living between the United States and the Middle East. He’s an active filmmaker and visual artist with several short films, documentaries and feature films to his credit. His films have screened at underground and international film festivals, and have been broadcast on television stations across the globe. In early 2004, nine months after the United States invaded Iraq, Usama and his wife returned to his birthplace to shoot his first feature documentary entitled Nice Bombs. The documentary had a theatrical release in Chicago and New York, and received its broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel.
His second documentary film, American Arab, was produced under a Diversity Fellowship at the Chicago documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams). The documentary had its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and the American premiere at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. American Arab had a national television broadcast through World Channel, as part of the fourth season of America ReFramed. It’s also been televised on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation and VGTV in Norway. He currently lives in Boulder, Colorado with his partner Kristie Alshaibi and his daughter Muneera.
Kristie Alshaibi (producer) is the founding owner of Artvamp, the production company now co-owned by Usama Alshaibi. Kristie has produced the majority of Usama’s films and secured their theatrical, broadcast and distribution deals. She also worked as the former Program Director of the Z Film Festival and creator of the successful 72 Hour Feature Project. She has received generous grants from such places as the Princess Grace Foundation and the Film Society of Lincoln Center (New York), as well as a full scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her Master’s Degree in Film & Video in 2001. Kristie’s own work in film and video has been shown in dozens of festivals across the Americas, Europe, and Australia. Kristie’s alter ego, Echo Transgression, appeared on MTV’s Sex2K, and is also the central character of her first feature length digital film entitled Other People’s Mirrors.
Eman Akram Nader (producer) is a filmmaker, writer, and producer from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Chicago. The idea of cinematic social inquiry is what drives her work, addressing socio-political and cross-cultural themes: feminism, migration, human rights, duality, and displacement in both narrative and documentary film. Her experimental narrative short film Ennem, about her grandmother's death in Saudi Arabia and women being excluded from burial services, has screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center and was part of the IMOW’s Muslima Exhibition. Amongst her current projects, she continues work on an ongoing documentary begun in 2009 that chronicles her nomadic childhood and travels between the US and Middle East.