Archive for the ‘Saif’ Category

Episode 36 - “Zaghareet”

Friday, June 8th, 2007

With this episode, Saif’s story in Hometown Baghdad comes to a close. The final episodes with Adel and Ausama will come out next week.

Update: After watching this episode, Saif was moved to write a note to everyone. I am posting it here. He starts with a quote from an email that we received from HTB viewer Maura.

“When I thought of Iraq 4 hours ago, I thought of militants with guns and veiled woman kept indoors. I didn’t think of rock music, video games, college classes, family dinners and days spent just fooling around with friends. When I thought of Iraqis, I didn’t think of kids just like me–kids who just want to laugh and date, play rock-n-roll, tease their siblings and hang around with their friends in the park.” Maura, Viewer

This is what we achieved in our show, Hometown Baghdad, thanks to God. First, I would like to thank my wife who has stood beside me all the way. Thank you, Mr. Ziad Turkey, the director. Thank you, Mr. Michael DiBenedetto, the online manger. Thanks to Laurie Meadoff and Kate Hillis, the executive producers. Thanks to all the people who worked on this powerful reality show. And thanks to all the people who watched, rated, posted, supported me and encouraged me throughout the series. May God keep food on our tables and women in our beds. :)

We risked our lives and did our best to transfer the truth to the minds of our viewers. We filmed with the background sound of bullets and choppers. We filmed while the power was off. But we filmed and continued filming to the last moment when we were forced to leave our country. This has all been for you, Baghdad. The city of Sinbad, the city of Shehrazad, the city where we belong.

It was a great honor to share my life with all of you. I made many friendships with people who were ready to help. They are really great people by any standard. It has been an honor working with the Iraqi crew who were very brave, and the American crew who did a great a job of making the series as you see it now. It has been a unique experience in my life, and I am proud to have done this for my country. It was a patriotic job. And in the future, I hope I can do more to help my wounded country.

A true Iraqi,

In the coming few days/weeks, we’ll be hearing more from Saif on the blog about where he is now and what he has been doing since filming ended on Hometown Baghdad. As this video shows and as he will tell us, Saif’s struggle is far from over. I’ve written this here before, but I’d like to restate that the stories of Iraqi exiles and refugees need to be told. And more than that, they are fascinating, compelling, heart-breaking and occasionally uplifting. And that is a project that we at Chat the Planet would like to pursue. We have officially begun to look into the prospects of continuing the stories of Hometown Baghdad, call it Leaving Hometown Baghdad if you will (name and plans subject to change, of course). Wish us luck with the funding and logistics preparation. And feel free to contact me with encouragement, support, ideas, etc.

On a semi-related note, if you are interested in the lives of Muslims in America, check out this trailer for an upcoming documentary about Flying While Muslim.

Episode 33 - “Out of War”

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The final departure.

In this video, we see Saif’s brother Mohammad who, as you may recall, was profiled in a short documentary on Youtube (not produced by us). Check it out here - Homeless. It reveals his experience as an exile, a life that his brother, our Saif, is now beginning. Saif’s life in Baghdad is done for now. But he is embarking on a whole new set of struggles and dangers. I think that the experience of Iraqi exiles is another story that desperately needs to be told.

Episode 32 - “Goodnight, Baghdad”

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Saif’s final night in Baghdad.

Mentally F’ed Up” is without a doubt one of the saddest episodes of Hometown Baghdad. In that episode, Adel interviews his brother and cousin about a horrible murder they witnessed in the street near their house. His last thought in the video is fear for their mental stability. Turns out, nearly all of Baghdad’s children are suffering from great mental stress. From NPR:

A new study in Iraq surveyed 2,500 kids, randomly chosen from a middle-income area of north Baghdad, to see if researchers could determine the effects of the war on their mental health. Dr. Mohammed al-Aboudi, Iraq’s national mental health adviser, speaks with Linda Wertheimer about the findings.

Listen to the story here. (Via the interesting From Baghdad to New York blog, thanks Laith!) Link.

Episode 29 - “Nothing But Guitar”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

We have seen Saif say goodbye to so many of his friends. Now, he is nearly alone in Baghdad.

A couple more great stories on Hometown Baghdad are coming out in the upcoming days. Wolf Blitzer’s crew from CNN was at our offices this morning and a story on us will air (in the US only) at around 7pm EST on the Situation Room. On Sunday, the Today Show Weekend Edition is doing a story on us. (Again - only in the US.) Special thanks to Zeyad from Healing Iraq for chatting with NBC about Hometown Baghdad.

Episode 26 - “Beggar at the Gate”

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

An unexpected visitor shows up while Saif prepares to leave Baghdad.

On April 9th, the 4th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, we posted a message from our extremely talented and eloquent director, Ziad Turkey. He refers to watching one of the participants pack his bags and the extreme emotional agony he felt at that moment. Go back and see how he felt as he shot some of this material.

Episode 24 - “Troops”

Monday, May 7th, 2007

American troops in Iraq - threat or protection?

Episode 23 - “Iraqi Man”

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Losing a best friend. Zaid leaves.

If you missed me on Brian Lehrer Live, watch it here. I was lucky enough to appear with Zeyad from Healing Iraq whose blog is an amazing peak at Baghdad.

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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.