About Baghdad by InCounter Productions (Iraq/U.S.A, 2004, 89 min, BetaSP)
New York Premiere

Synopsis:

Shot in Iraq by a filmmaking collective of independent activists, academics, and artists, this compelling documentary follows Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi poet, who returns to his native Baghdad after twelve years of exile in the United States. His conversations with Baghdadis of all stripes build a complex portrait of resilience amid the chaos immediately following the US invasion in 2003. Schoolchildren, poets, professors, even asylum inmates express relief at the ousting of Saddam, skepticism about the interloping Americans (and émigré Iraqis like Antoon himself) who have not suffered decades of trauma, and their regrets, hopes and fears for their country in a tumultuous new era.
In English and Arabic w/English subtitles

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Post-screening panel discussion with InCounter Productions team Sinan Antoon, Suzy Salamy, Bassam Haddad, Adam Shapiro, and Maya Mikdashi

Filmmakers' Bios:

Sinan Antoon was born in Baghdad to an Iraqi father and an American mother. He was raised and educated there and earned a BA in English from Baghdad University in 1990. He left Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War and settled in the United States where he completed an MA in Arab Studies (Culture and Society) from Georgetown University in 1995, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Arabic literature at Harvard University. Sinan has published poetry and prose in Arabic and English (see list of publications below), translated Arabic poetry into English, and published articles on Arabic literature in academic journals. He directed and co-produced two plays at Middlebury College in 1998 and 1999 (Sa`dallaha Wannus’ The King is the King and The Elephant). His first novel, I`jam (Diacritics) was published in Beirut by Dar al-Adab in Spring 2004. He is currently finishing a book (in English) about surviving the 1991 Gulf War in Baghdad.

Bassam Haddad is adjunct professor of political science at Georgetown University. He is also editor of a peer-reviewed research publication, the Arab Studies Journal. For the past two years, he has been active with SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Tax-Funded Aid To Israel Now), a grassroots organization of activists, serving as the editor of the organization's newsletter and as a contributing organizer of its street theatre action events. He has experimented extensively in sound and video recording, mixing, and editing during the past several years.

Dirar Hakeem is a native of Syria, who has lived and worked throughout the Middle East, as well as in the United States. Trained in IT, Dirar has worked for Fortune 500 companies and has consulted for a number of media entities in the Arab world.

Maya Mikdashi, a dual American/Lebanese citizen, was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Currently residing in Washington, she is pursuing her MA at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. She is a recipient of the 1999 best actress award at the International Beirut Film Festival for her work in the student film Dystopia, and she is the writer, director, and editor of the student narrative film Pontification, which played to positive reviews at the San Francisco film festival in 2001. She is currently in pre-production stages for her self-written one-act play If Anyone Ever Asks You…your mother converted when you were married. Maya holds a BA in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University.

Suzy Salamy was born in Brooklyn, NY, and is of Palestinian, Lebanese, Irish and Scottish descent. She holds a BA from Bard College has been working in the TV/Film industry since 1998. For the last three years she has been working for a small post-production company as an assistant editor, editing films for the Discovery Channel and the Food Network, as well as documentaries – most recently about the Rolling Stones. Suzy is one of the founders of Falafel Daddy Productions, which released Palestine is Waiting in 2004. Suzy has filmed in Palestine during the Intifada, and has also filmed in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Nadya Sbaiti is the daughter of a Lebanese father and American mother who grew up in Kuwait, living there for 15 years until the country was invaded in 1990. At that point, she and her family moved to the United States, where she lived for a time in Dallas, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts. Between 1995 and 1997 she worked as an assistant editor and production manager at Solidere in Beirut, before returning to the US for graduate school. Currently a Ph.D. candidate in History at Georgetown University, she also earned an MA from Georgetown University. Her research is on gender and education in pre-civil war Beirut. She has been on the editorial staff of the Arab Studies Journal since 1997, and is currently a senior editor.

Sherene Seikaly is a Palestinian-American who was born in Beirut and grew up in Los Angeles, California. She received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego in Urban Studies and Planning. Shortly after her graduation she returned to Beirut and worked with Association Najdeh, a non-profit organization working with Palestinian women in the refugee camps in Lebanon. After a year, she became the coordinator of a Children’s Rights Program at a regional organization named the Arab Resource Collective. Her work included supporting and training grassroots, community-based organizations in Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and the West Bank and Gaza. Sherene received a Masters Degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and is presently a doctoral student at NYU at the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and History. She works on the cultural history of contemporary Palestine/Israel and is a senior editor of the Arab Studies Journal. She is one of the founders and organizers of NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, and a member of the Palestine Activist Forum, a New York based coalition.

Adam Shapiro is an organizer with the International Solidarity Movement, which promotes and organizes nonviolent direct action in Palestine. Adam is currently a Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at American University in Washington, DC, and holds an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and an MA in Politics from New York University. Adam has worked for Seeds of Peace, The Field Museum and as a consultant with Civic Forum - a Jerusalem-based Palestinian NGO. He was nominated in 2002 for The Nation/Puffin Foundation Prize and the Oscar Romero Award for Leadership and Service to Human Rights. In recognition of his work in Palestine, Adam was named an Honorary Veteran for Peace by the national Veterans for Peace organization in May 2002, and serves on the Board of Directors of two non-governmental organizations – Partners for Peace and KinderUSA.

Festivals and Awards:

• San Diego International Film Festival, 2004
• Hopkins Center Film, New Hampshire, 2004
• Montreal World Film Festival, 2004
• Cinemayaat: San Francisco Arab Film Festival, 2004
• Docudays, Beirut, 2004

Reviews:

Filmed and edited with exceptional fluidity, and graced with a lovely score by Amir Tawfiq, this "montage" of Iraqi observations leaves you feeling that you've heard from the Iraqi people, perhaps for the first time.
— Godfrey Cheshire, Indyweek

Print Source:

Adam Shapiro
InCounter Productions
1212 W Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202.494.0471
Fax: 202.250.6614
Email: [email protected]