Archive for April, 2008

Iraqi Docs Showing in NYC

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

A friend forwarded me an invitation to a showcase of recent documentary films made by students at the Baghdad Film School. The night looks fantastic for fans of Hometown Baghdad and anyone interested in the situation in Iraq.
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The films being screened include:

Baghdad Days (35 mins) (directed by Hiba Bassem, 2005). Hiba Bassem, a young woman from Kirkuk , returns to Baghdad after the war, to finish her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts . The film is a diary of her year as she tries to find a place to live, looks for work, graduates from college, deals with family problems and struggles to come to terms with her position as a woman on her own.

This film won a New Horizon silver award at the Al Jazeera International Film Festival in Doha (2006) and a golden award at the Rotterdam Arab Film Festival (2006).

A Candle For The Shabandar Cafe (25 mins) (directed by Emad Ali, 2007). Founded in 1917, the Shabandar Cafe in Al Mutanabbi Street in the heart of the old centre of Baghdad , was a cultural landmark, where generations of Iraqis came to discuss and debate literature and politics - a living repository of Iraqi intellectual history and one of the last places where people could gather to exchange ideas. Emad had shot most of his film by the end of 2006, but in March 2007, a
massive car bomb destroyed the Shabandar Cafe, all the bookshops on Al Mutanabbi Street and killed and wounded scores of people. Days later, Baghdad ’s poets and artists held a wake in the ruins of the street they loved so much and Emad took a small camera and went back to film. As he was leaving he was attacked, his camera stolen and he was shot in the legs and chest, and his own story is an epilogue to his film about the Shabandar Cafe and Mutanabbi Street - before and after they were destroyed.

Dr Nabil (15 mins) (directed by Ahmed Jabbar, 2007)
A gentle and committed surgeon, with literary talents, works at a small understaffed Baghdad hospital, which suffers from lack of equipment and medicines. While many other doctors have been killed or have fled the country in fear of their lives, Dr Nabil has decided to stay. He worries, though, about the effect that the atmosphere of violence and brutality is having on his young son.

Time & Location:
Wednesday April 30th, 7pm
Millennium Film Workshop, 66 East 4th Street New York , New York

Vote in the Webby People’s Voice Awards!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

While the Webby Academy chooses the official Webby winners, the People’s Voice awards are chosen by the people, i.e. you! So while you are hoping and praying that your favorite series/sites/videos/cewebrities (go Tay Zonday!) get the official wins, you can also cast your own votes in each category here (registration required). So go vote for your favorites (wink wink nudge nudge).

Hometown Baghdad Nominated for Four Webby Awards

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I am uncontrollably thrilled to announce that Hometown Baghdad was nominated for four Webby Awards! The nominations are in the online film and video section in the following categories:

This is such an honor. As a tried and true internet geek, the Webby Awards are about the highest set of honors in the entire world to me. So I am ridiculously proud of everyone here at Chat and I’m proud to the point of drooling of the brave Iraqi crew and subjects. I even just called a very groggy Fady Hadid to give him the good news, momentarily having forgot about the time difference. (Sorry, Fady!)

This series was a long, hard, stressful and rewarding struggle. And this is a nice cap on the whole experience. But we can’t get too euphoric. As we celebrate, our hearts go out to the people who helped us make Hometown Baghdad who are still in danger, who are still struggling. With any luck, this nomination can make my dream of working with them again to tell Iraqi refugee stories in Leaving Hometown Baghdad a reality. Even though everyone at Chat makes fun of me for liking that name.

Watch a special made-for-the-Webbies-intro-to-HTB video made by our editors Barrett Hawes and Will Gardiner. Hmm…maybe I’m not so good at naming things.