Jack Shaheen

Very sad to hear about the passing of Dr. Jack Shaheen. He’s the author of an important book called Reel Bad Arabs, about how Hollywood vilifies Muslims and Arabs in film and television. He’s an inspiration to so many of us that came from the Middle East and grew up in the United States. He clearly and accurately pointed out the racism in American media and how it effected the perception of a whole people.

Part of his biography from Aljazeera: Born in Pennsylvania in 1935 to Lebanese immigrants, Shaheen obtained a PhD at the University of Missouri and would later go on to receive two Fulbright teaching awards. He was a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. He worked extensively in the media industry, and was a former Middle East affairs consultant for CBS News. With the help of organisations such as the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), he created scholarships for Arab-American students to study media.

Dr. Jack was also our advisor on American Arab and he’s written about my film Nice Bombs. He’s someone I consider an academic hero. Rest in peace Dr. Jack.

Our last email correspondence:

“Please stay in touch and keep the faith, my friend.
BEST wishes, Dr Jack”

Baghdad, Iowa premiers in Portland

Open Signal is proud to host a Portland showing of The Seventh Art Stand, a nationwide screening and discussion series presented by over fifty theaters, museums and community centers in the United States, which seeks to clarify the myths perpetuated by Islamophobia. 

This screening, hosted by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Vivian Hua, will feature short films by filmmakers from all over the country, including “Baghdad, Iowa” by Colorado filmmaker Usama Alshaibi; “Um Aballah” by New York filmmaker Sahar al-Sawaf; “Thyme” by Florida filmmaker Jude Cherab; and “Searching Skies” by Hua. 

Following the screening, Hua will discuss the works shown with Alshaibi over Skype.  Screening date is June 21.

Father’s day

Right before my dad and I drove back to Baghdad in early 2004, my wife Kristie took this picture. It was the first image of a very intense and life changing trip for both of us that is documented in my film Nice Bombs. My father and I had been apart for so many years, and been away from Iraq for over 24 years; so it made this trip so significant. My father Hameed has been known as being a risk-taker, reckless, an adventurer and someone who never needed map… let’s just keep driving he would say. But for me, it helped when I took my own risks and traveled and entered new and strange places. It’s ironic that he brought us to the United States but he was never able to settle here. This is the first father’s day since my dad has died. There is something about being a father myself, as well as getting older and reflecting on my own childhood, that has given me a deeper love and appreciation for my own father. Happy father’s day to you dad. Miss you.

Film review for Profane

“There’s a cinematic mastery lying at the very core of Profane…”

Great review for my underground film Profane. Read more at the The Independent Film Critic. 

“Kara portrays Muna masterfully by refusing to peel away the layers of her complex persona. Profane isn’t a film for the casual moviegoer, because it requires active listening and participation.”
“The original music by Ehsan Ghoreishi is haunting and deeply felt, while Alshaibi’s camera work is at times stunning in its intimacy and its heartbreak. While it may seem absurd to mention in a film with so much nudity (and there’s a lot!), Maha Moda deserves kudos for her costume design here. ”