Archive for the ‘Ausama’ Category

Episode 37 0f 38 - “One of Thousands”

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

The shocking and severely disturbing finale to Ausama’s videos in Hometown Baghdad.

Ausama asked me to post the following note to the viewers of Hometown Baghdad after his final video was online.

Dear all,

First of all, I want to say that I never thought that we would be able to connect with anyone in the way that we have. I never imagined that we would make any kind of impact. I just wanted to say this before I began.

I carry love and passion for my country of Iraq, for my glorious city of Baghdad, for my house, for my family and for my people. It is what made me able to do this. My love and passion made me continue to tape in some of the hardest, saddest and most dangerous situations. It also gave me the responsibility to show you our lives, the will to keep going no matter what, and definitely the desire to show you our love for peace.

What we really tried to accomplish with this project is to show you our lifestyle; to tell the truth about what happened and what’s happening to us normal Iraqi citizens; and to show you that we’re not so different than others around the globe. We only have different cultures and customs. I humbly hope that we have succeeded in this.

I can’t express enough my thanks to Chat the Planet for giving me/us this magnificent opportunity, Thank you so much, Laurie, Mike, Kate, Barrett and everyone else who contributed to this project.

Of course, I cannot forget and will never forget the outstanding courage of the Iraqi crew members - Mr. Ziad Turkey, Fady, Nezar and Adel (the sound man). They challenged death many times to reach us and shoot with us. May god keep them safe.

This has been an extraordinary experience for me. It gave me new perspectives, the opportunity to meet so many new people, and to reach out and speak to the world.
I’m also thankful to you - the viewers. I’m so thankful to everyone who has watched our videos. I can only hope that you liked what you saw, and that you liked us even if we sometimes had different opinions.

No matter what happens in the future, I can be sure that we all seek the same things - Peace and Happiness.

I’ll end with a quote. It’s one of my favorites.

“To light a candle is much better than cursing the darkness.”

Thank you and Good Bye,
Salam / Peace,
The cradle of Civilizations, Iraq

(spoiler alert - watch the video!) Producing this series involved a lot of breath-holding on the part of us American producers and indubitably a lot more breath-holding on the part of our Iraqi cast and crew. Every shoot day was a risk. Every time Fady reported in that they had safely and successfully captured some as-of-yet-unknown aspect of Iraqi life under war was cause for relief. For one, it was another step closer to our shared goal of showing the human side of the conflict. But way more importantly, we made it one more day without incident. And so when Fady sent me an IM that Ausama’s uncle was killed, we were extremely upset. We had come to know and love Ausama through the little we saw of him in his casting interview and what we heard about him through Fady and the rest of our crew. His loss was felt deeply in our office.

It didn’t occur to me until about five minutes ago that most rational people in Ausama’s situation would have given up on our project. Turned their cameras off. Sent our crews packing. Who wants to work on a project with Americans for a predominantly Western audience when the US army has just killed your uncle? But Ausama did not stop. He did not shut us and the rest of the world out of his life. He allowed himself to be filmed when he was feeling his most vulnerable, and his most angry. He remained committed to continue sharing his life and opening himself up, “even if we sometimes had different opinions,” as he says. It is a testament to him and his family that we are able to tell his story.

Episode 34 - “Back to Baghdad”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

If you thought Adel was upbeat in Syria, wait until you see Ausama hitting the streets of Damascus. But the vacation is over. And now he returns to Baghdad.

Episode 28 - “Tickets and Popcorn”

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

With his bags packed, Ausama escapes the “prison” of Baghdad for a brief respite.

Edmund Sanders at The Los Angeles Times wrote a great article about Hometown Baghdad today. Check it out here. If you can get your hands on a hard copy of it, you will see that we are featured on the cover! Truly an honor.

Saif from Hometown Baghdad told me yesterday about his friend who just started a website that has cell phone ringtones. They have a bunch of Arabic songs on there for those of you that liked that Iraqi folk song I posted a few weeks back. Check out the site here. I haven’t used it myself but Saif gives it his thumbs up.
Update: To carry on the short-lived tradition, I’m posting a pic of another Chat the Planet staffer holding up the LA Times. None of my unkempt hair this time. The article about us is in the bottom right corner and an enlarged version is to the right in this picture.

Cover of the LA Times

Episode 27 - “Market Boom”

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Ausama takes us on a trip to the market.

I made some little design and usability changes to the site. I hope you like them. Also, many people have commented on Saif’s struggle to practice dentistry outside of Iraq. About a week and a half ago, the Washington Post wrote an article on the issue. I also wanted to give readers a quick reminder that we at Chat the Planet produce projects all over the world. If you want to be kept up to date on our programs, sign up for our mailing list.

Episode 24 - “Troops”

Monday, May 7th, 2007

American troops in Iraq - threat or protection?

Episode 22 of 45 - “Sick of This”

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Murder in the name of religion.

If you live in the New York area, I am going to be on Brian Lehrer’s show on channel 75 tonight talking about Hometown Baghdad, online video and politics. It will also be available as a video podcast in a few days. I will be appearing with Zeyad, the incredible blogger behind Healing Iraq. It will be an honor to appear with him.

Also, many people were confused by the episode of Hometown Baghdad, “Forbidden Salad,” because Ausama and his family talked about how a certain salad was banned by religious extremists. Some people thought they were joking. Some commenters on one site thought we were putting out Israeli propaganda (yes, they actually thought that). But I found a blog post that explains the thinking behind this ban on sexually indecent salad(!!!). It is from Nabil’s blog. He is another educated young Iraqi being forced to leave due to the violence that threatens him daily. Let’s hope that he, like Adel, Saif and Ausama, stays safe.

Episode 20 of 45 - “Liberation”

Friday, April 27th, 2007

If you’re new to this series, catch up on previous installments using the episode guide to the left. If you’re a regular, check out our new episode below…

Nearly everyone who has seen Hometown Baghdad has been desperate to know what Saif, Adel and Ausama think about the American invasion/occupation. After having seen how it has affected their lives, their families and their friends, we now get to hear them talk honestly about it.

And a special hello to new visitors to this site who saw us on CNN in the US, Swiss TV, Swedish TV and all the other great media outlets that are helping us further the awareness of these Iraqi voices.

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Episode 19 of 45 - “Security”

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

In “Across the River”, we learned about Ausama’s safe haven, his favorite spot in the world - his grandmother’s beautiful house. Now we find out what happened there. And what that has done to him, his family and the way he sees the world.

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