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Please Help

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Hometown Baghdad has its US television debut tonight on the Sundance Channel at 11:30 PM Eastern Time. While we are very excited and pleased that these stories will continue to move audiences, the subjects of our film, Saif, Adel and Ausama, need help. They are still struggling as students. I won’t give away where they all are - you have to watch tonight on Sundance to hear what has happened to them since production wrapped in 2006 - but I do encourage you to consider lending them a hand in whatever way you can. Perhaps you have pull at a university where they’d like to continue their studies. Perhaps you know of job opportunities that can help with their immigration papers. Perhaps you want to send a small bit of financial help. Anything will make a difference. I can’t give out their contact information publicly, but if you would like to get in touch with them, please let me know by emailing me at

Thank you and enjoy the show tonight.

Two Hour Hometown Baghdad TV Special Schedule

Friday, February 20th, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Hometown Baghdad has been airing and will continue to air on television sets around the world. Through partnerships with the Sundance Channel and National Geographic International, we turned the footage you’re familiar with from the webisodes into a two hour television extravaganza. But that’s not all…we will be including a whole bunch of never before seen material in these broadcasts. New scenes, new interviews, new glimpses into the lives of ordinary Iraqis. These TV versions are extremely powerful and should not be missed either by those unfamiliar with the webisodes or by longtime Hometown Baghdad fans.

Here is a list of the regions, countries, channels and times where you can catch HTB on TV:

United States, Sundance Channel
March 19, 2009, 23:30

Asia/Taiwan, National Geographic (Nat Geo)
Part One: January 17, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: March 24, 2009, 21:00

Iberia, Nat Geo
Part One: February 1, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: February 1, 2009, 22:00

Turkey, Nat Geo
Part One: February 3rd, 2009, 22:00
Part Two: February 10, 2009, 22:00

Germany, Nat Geo
Part One: February 5, 2009, 22:05
Part Two: February 12, 2009, 22:05

Latin America, Nat Geo
Part One: February 6, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: February 7, 2009, 22:00

Central Europe, Nat Geo
Part One: February 8, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: February 8, 2009, 22:00

Italy, Nat Geo
Part One: March 6, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: March 13, 2009, 21:00

India, Nat Geo
Part One: March 29, 2009, 20:00
Part Two: March 29, 2009, 21:00

France, Nat Geo
Part One: March 29, 2009, 20:40
Part Two: March 29, 2009, 21:35

Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Africa, Nat Geo
Part One: March 31, 2009, 21:00
Part Two: April 7, 2009, 21:00

HTB Wins Three Webby Awards

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Webby Awards
This is week old news, but here is our announcement nonetheless: Hometown Baghdad won three Webby Awards! It’s an incredible honor and we’re absolutely thrilled.
Of the four categories we were nominated in, we won the following:

A huge congratulations to our fellow winners and nominees. If any Hometown Baghdad fans are going to the award ceremony or any associated after parties, be sure to seek me out and say hello. (Extra points to the person who introduces me to Stephen Colbert.) Look for the guy with the beard…though I imagine in a room full of internet geeks, I won’t be the only one sporting a scruffy look. I will be with the Chat the Planet team and Fady Hadid, the Iraqi producer of HTB who was crazy enough to work with us in the middle of friggin’ war zone.

Arabic Translators Needed Immediately

Monday, May 12th, 2008

In our quest to bring the stories of Hometown Baghdad to television, we are looking for a few translators in the New York area who can understand the Iraqi dialect. Ideally, native Iraqis are best for the position because some of the footage contains Iraqi slang. Translators would need to start as soon as possible and can work days or nights. One benefit of this position is that we will teach you how to enter translations directly into editing computers. This will make you a more valuable translator in the future! And of course, this is a paid position.

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.
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

Hometown Baghdad videos are back up

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

We put them back up here. The YouTube videos are still down.

Hometown Baghdad Videos Pulled from YouTube

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Now that I got your attention, allow me to disappoint. There is no scandal or disagreement. We at Chat the Planet continue to think YouTube is an incredible force in media that allows unusual stories like those in Hometown Baghdad to find an audience. However, the truth is that we are in the process of finding television distribution for Hometown Baghdad and we want to make sure the process goes smoothly. Television distribution for Hometown Baghdad would dramatically increase the amount of people that get to meet Ausama, Adel and Saif. Their stories and lives would be able to bring unseen realities of life in Baghdad to an even greater audience than we’ve already reached. It’s an incredible opportunity for us, for the videos and for our three friends.

To those of you who have blogged about HTB and embedded or linked to our videos from YouTube, I’m sorry. Same goes for people who have recently forwarded YouTube links to friends.

Meanwhile, the videos will be made available on our website on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Update: The HTB videos are back on our site. Watch away!

Saif’s Instructional Guitar Videos

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Hometown Baghdad viewers should know that when Saif isn’t booby-trapping his house with barbwire, smoking shisha, or talking about his beautiful wife Noor, he is playing guitar. And so he has decided to make a series of instructional videos for people wanting to learn how to play in a variety of styles. Here are the first two. If you like them, subscribe to his youtube channel.

Lesson 1: Triple Stroke Rasgueado

Lesson 2: Forward Arpeggio