Thursday, March 31, 2011

Boston Underground Film Festival Awards This Year's Vibrating Bunnies - indieWIRE

Boston Underground Film Festival Awards This Year's Vibrating Bunnies - indieWIRE

The films at the Boston Underground Film Festival all compete for the festival’s singular award: a vibrating bunny statuette. The award is given to winners from all categories, with this year’s recipients being announced Sunday night.

Usama Alshaibi’s “Profane” was the unanimous winner of the Best of the Fest Award. The same prize went to Can Evernol’s “To My Mother and Father” in the Shorts section.

“I am very honored and grateful for this award, and it gives me hope to continue to make these difficult films,” said Alshabi. “BUFF is truly a significant and vital underground film festival.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Profane' film review in Boston Phoenix

In Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi's PROFANE (2010; Kendall Square: March 26 @ 11:55 pm + March 29 @ 9:45 pm), Muna, a Chicago dominatrix, discusses how much she likes her job as she uses a riding crop to prod the genitals of a bound and masked client. But Muna is also a lapsed Muslim. She hears voices, which the solicitous cab driver Ali explains are coming from a jinn, a kind of guardian demon, who haunts her.

Torn between ecstasy and submission, Muna takes an unorthodox path to enlightenment, one that Profane dramatizes with documentary methods and psychedelic imagery. In the best underground tradition, Alshaibi — who recently was savagely beaten in an anti-Arab hate crime — demonstrates that true reverence sometimes requires transgression.

From Boston Phoenix By PETER KEOUGH | March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

PROFANE North American Premiere at the Boston Underground Film Festival

PROFANE will have its US premiere at the Boston Underground Film Festival on Saturday, March 26th & 29th, 2011 at 11:55pm at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, MA

When in a time of spiritual crisis, people may not be at their most rational. We meet Muna in the midst of just such a situation. Muna lives in Chicago and works as a dominatrix in self-imposed exile from her conservative family in the Middle East. What Muna is searching for is her “jinn,” the Islamic equivalent of a demon. Equal parts good and evil, a jinn is created from smokeless fire and resides in all of us according to the Quran. Muna is essentially seeking out demonic possession.

We stay with Muna throughout her pro-domme sessions, her tenuous friendship with a cabdriver named Ali, who attempts to reconnect her to the culture with which she has lost touch, and her libertine friend Mary, who brings Muna’s rebellious nature to the surface. We follow her through a maze of indulgence and excess in the hopes that she will find the sense of self that has been eluding her during her extended life in the States.

Renowned underground filmmaker Usama Alshaibi pulls no punches in his first film to grace BUFF screens since 2004. With its sado-masochistic eroticism juxtaposed with traditional Islamic imagery, it would be easy to dismiss Profane as anti-religious agit-prop. But Alshaibi invests so much depth in his main character, and so much lurks beneath the surface of his sometimes shocking setpieces, that it is easy to see that Profane is an intensely personal experience for its author. Known equally for his non-fiction filmmaking as he is for his contribution to transgressive cinema, Alshaibi applies his skills as a documentarian to this psycho-sexual horror story of one woman’s struggle with her identity and the culture clash between Middle Eastern mythology and Western pop culture.
— Kevin Monahan