Headshot of Usama AlshaibiWhen Teaching Associate Professor Usama Alshaibi isn’t showing students how to make films, directing the Through the Student Lens Film Festival, or winning this year’s Faculty Excellence: 14’er Award, he’s making new films himself.

His newest film, Soon, is a short documentary about his experience as a child who survived war in the Middle East.

Alshaibi and his co-writer, Lauren Samblanet, worked to transfer footage from original super 8mm film shot by Alshaibi’s father, allowing the moving images to mutate and glitch into their own form, superimposed with poetic text. “The transformation is part of it, the memory, the pain and the history manifesting visually,” he explained.

In making the film, Alshaibi said he was “thinking about living through war and how trauma is not something you have to suffer through alone”—a truth that, he recognized, extends beyond just the experience of surviving war. In revisiting his childhood in this way, Alshaibi said, “I think I’m also recognizing what my daughter is going through with this pandemic and all the fear that goes with it.”

Blurry still image from film "Soon." A child runs with their arms outstretched, with this text superimposed: "and he will be in awe,"

Similarly, co-writer Samblanet added that “working on this film reminded me how trauma reverberates through our lives in similar ways regardless of what type of trauma we lived through, and how making art about our trauma can help us heal not just our individual pain but can also help us heal collectively.”

Soon had its world premiere last month at the Aurora Picture Show’s program Extremely Shorts Film Festival in Houston, Texas, and it will have a Midwest premiere at the Chicago Underground Film Festival July 27-31, 2022. Alshaibi anticipates additional screening dates are still to come at other festivals, as well.

Alshaibi is an award-winning filmmaker and artist with many short films, documentaries, and feature films to his credit. His films have screened at film festivals and broadcast on television stations across the globe. He has made two documentary feature films, Nice Bombs and American Arab, several fiction feature films such Profane and Muhammad and Jane, and over fifty short films. Learn more at http://usamaalshaibi.com/

Blurry still image from film "Soon." A toddler glances at the camera, with this text superimposed: "He will begin to feel a horrible pressure inside his head, his body and his heart."

Film by Usama Alshaibi
Written by Usama Alshaibi and Lauren Samblanet
Super 8mm film footage shot by Hameed Alshaibi
Music by Händel, HWV 437, Sarabande