Soak film review in Horror Estremo

[NOTE: This is auto translated from the original review in Italian  from horrorestremo.altervista.org]

Here is SOAK, the first work of the volcanic Iraqi director and artist Usama Alshaibi known, best known for the extreme anthology SOLAR ANUS CINEMA (with the exaggerated CONVULSION EXPULSION) and PROFANE, film of 2012, to date his latest film work. An abstract, confused and logical work that mixes memories, desires, fears and alienation, centering on the theme of sexually transmitted diseases and violence against women in order to fulfill their somewhat distorted sexual and mental desires.

We follow the vicissitudes of a boy traveling in Southeast Asia, probably in Thailand, who dreams of sexual encounters with fetish practices such as the suffocation of the occasional partner. After an encounter with a white prostitute, she ends up getting infected and then starts bleeding and losing pieces of penis. Then begins a journey halfway between spiritual research, the obsession with new sexual emotions, with always alive the desire to stifle the prostitute on duty, and finally in unhealthy desire of emasculation ……

Experimental work at the highest levels, where the director absorbs and draws heavily from places full of colors and costumes Thai, Vietnamese and Southeast Asia in general, including rituals and animal sacrifices, jungle and powerful vegetation, transsexuals and phosphorescent prostitutes, shady European characters and ambiguous female figures. Nothing is fully illustrated and violence is never shown completely, always braked and confused, like the mind of its protagonist, suffering from a repressed desire for gratuitous violence against women, lost in a delirious limbo. The finale does not illuminate the dark sides of this experimental film, leaving doubts about what is real and what has only been dreamed of. An alienating and magnetic work, perhaps too hermetic, where the unmistakable style of the Iraqi director will end up dragging us along, together with his little limpid protagonist, in a world without certain references and mental and physical agonies, daughters of the sexual fears of our unhappy age!

(by SubItaFrancescoVecchi)

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.

Muslim Meme playing at Mizna

Mizna Arab Film Festival: Experimental Arab Film
January 6, 2018

This wintertime screening, curated by Andrea Shaker and Michelle Baroody and co-presented by Mizna and the Minnesota Museum of American Art, brings an exciting selection of experimental cinema by Arab American filmmakers to Cellular Cinema’s CAVE 2 (Cinematic Audio Visual Experimentation) Film Festival. The matinee features films from Usama Alshaibi, Basma Alsharif, Hisham Bizri, Ariana Hamidi, and Andrea Shaker

Boy from War in Westword newspaper


By Kyle Harris

Usama Alshaibi doesn’t think of himself as a model refugee-turned-citizen. He’s neither a poster-child immigrant that Democratic strategists could parade around as a shining example of what happens when the United States opens its arms to Arabs, nor the bomb-wielding anti-American terrorist that President Donald Trump would have us believe immigrants from Iraq must be.

He didn’t join the military or die fighting for the United States in its war that destroyed his home country of Iraq. He was an average student. He experimented with sex and LSD. He found himself in the punk-rock scene of the ’80s. He drew inspiration from the Beats. Kids teased him because of his name and ridiculed him as a foreigner; when he visited his family in Iraq, he was viewed as an outsider American — a misfit. Negotiating sexual liberation, drugs, punk and Islam hasn’t been exactly easy for him, or something he’s been inclined to talk about in the context of his Arab-American identity. 

[read more]