Muffin

Muffin

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

screenings:
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.

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.