Nice Bombs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago filmmaker Usama Alshaibi grew up in Iraq and the U.S., and although he recently became an American citizen, his personal video documentary has plenty to say about the day-to-day existence of his Baghdad relatives, whom he visited in 2004. Distance tends to simplify our view of anything, and this video humanizes the situation on the ground mostly by complicating it: in a voice-over Alshaibi says he's often asked what "the Iraqis" think, but by the end this question has become as meaningless as asking what "the Americans" think. Much of his previous work has been experimental, but this becomes formally adventurous only near the end, as he converses by phone with a cousin who tells him how much worse the situation has grown this year. 92 min. Alshaibi, executive producer Studs Terkel, and Christie Hefner of Playboy, whose foundation helped fund the film, will answer questions after the screening, which kicks off the Chicago Underground Film Festival. See next week's issue for a complete festival schedule. Thu 8/17, 8 PM, Music Box.

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