I made this short movie over 18 years ago on a cold winter night in Chicago. I convinced a good friend to buy me a Sony 3-chip mini-digital video camera, in exchange to stay in my crappy apartment for free. Back then, especially coming out of film school, video was considered low-brow, cheap and crass. But I loved video and enjoyed the possibilities it gave me. I could finally grab a camera and do it all myself. This early short movie set the DNA of much of my later work. The interview style mixed within a narrative, the crass and the beautiful, the self conscious approach. It was also a kind of accident. An actor to play the male was supposed to show up and didn’t make it. I had a few notes scribbled on a piece of paper for what I wanted. It was more like a feeling with certain lines, certain images and moods, but nothing concrete. I had a friend I went to film school with and he was going to help me with lighting. Instead Piotr Tokarski ended up acting in my film and we started a productive relationship with him starring in many of my short films and feature films. The other performer is my friend Becka Joynt. I believe we met at the Goldstar Bar and we talked about doing something together. This was all shot in her apartment, and with some direction and some dark chaos all operating in a boozy haze.
You can see here I’m experimenting with audio, editing… but also trying to conjure a hypnotic state… it was shot in one night and edited overnight in the basement of Peter Hartel’s house. I was just learning to use this new technology, and sat there in the dark, working alone, and created something I was craving to see.

“Usama Alshaibi’s Muffin, an eerily stylized deconstruction of exploitation and violence in life and cinema.”
-Lisa Alspector, Critics Choice, Chicago Reader, Feb 11, 2000

Chaos Network Production (Los Angeles 2000)
Undershorts Film Festival (Chicago 2000)
Chicago Underground Film Festival (2000)
Euro Underground Film Festival (2000)

The Flowering

Watch my short film The Flowering. Shot on Super 8mm film and a little bit of analog video. This film just premiered at the 25th Chicago Underground Film Festival.

New podcast show: Usama Talk

Strepsata and I discuss the many issues with cultural appropriation. Is it ever okay to take from another culture that is not yours? We examine many examples like bellydancing, musician MIA, and movies such as The Party and Disco Dancer.