Usama Alshaibi was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1969 and spent his formative years living between the United States and the Middle East. His work in film and video has been screened at numerous film festivals and venues across the globe. In early 2004 Usama and his wife returned to his birthplace in Iraq to shoot his first feature documentary titled Nice Bombs. The documentary had a theatrical release in 2007 and a broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel in March 2008.
Usama has completed more than forty short films that are on various international DVD compilations. His films have screened at such places as Anthology Film Center in New York and The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. He has also produced and directed music videos for a variety of musicians and record labels.
In addition to reaching an eclectic audience with his film work, Alshaibi’s photography and art have been included in various gallery exhibitions and web publications.
Feature articles have been written about his work in such places as the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, and Variety. An interview with Usama appears in Studs Terkel’s book Hope Dies Last and his films have been included in Jack Sargeant’s book Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground. His coming-of-Arab story is also included in a chapter in Louis Cainkar’s book, Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11.
Alshaibi’s documentary films have received several grants, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation award, an award from the Creative Capital Foundation for the Arts and two Playboy Foundation awards. He is also the winner of the Creative Promise award at Tribeca All Access in New York City.
Usama was commissioned by Detroit Public Television to direct and produce two segments for the series Arab-American Stories; which aired nationally on Public Television stations in the summer and fall of 2012.
Alshaibi’s latest narrative feature, Profane, has won several awards, including best feature at the Boston Underground Film Festival. His second documentary feature, American Arab, is produced under a Diversity Fellowship at Kartemquin Films. The fellowship was enacted with support from the MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.