April 3, 2007
Adel is showing me around his college campus in Baghdad, and we stop in front of a round cement platform covered with red plastic. “Two years ago our school was attacked by a missile and a student was killed here, and his brain was right there. They tried to wash it way but they couldn’t, so they put that (the plastic) on it to cover it.”
But I am not in Iraq, I am on YouTube, in the safety of my living room.
For three months, Adel, Ausama and Saif have been filming their friends and their lives.
The “webisodes” were launched on March 19, on the four-year anniversary of the Iraq war, and will continue to be released three times a week through the end of May of 2007 on HometownBaghdad.com. Some of the footage will also be aired on mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network.
The project is a partnership between Iraqi filmmakers Ziad Turkey and Fady Hadid and Chat the Planet, a New York-based youth dialogue media company. Chat the Planet has previously produced shows where young Americans “chat” via live video link to Iraqi students, both before and after the beginning of the war.
Wiretap’s Emily Freeburg caught up with Fady Hadid, age 23, the producer of the series and a student at the University of Baghdad.
WireTap: It’s amazing that right now, despite everything, you can work with an American media company, Chat the Planet. What forms does your collaboration take, and what does the relationship mean for you?
I became in contact with Chat in a previous project that I co-produced for them, which was an episode for Chat the Planet called Baghdad 2-Way, and we made that episode without even meeting each other in person.
I learned about Chat through the website of TakingITGlobal.org, since they are partners, I was excited to work on that project with them. After finishing [Baghdad 2-Way] we stayed in contact through emails and instant messaging, and we became friends. It is overwhelmingly amazing for me to make such projects while we are half a world apart. This just emphasizes to me how humans can interact despite different backgrounds, tongues and long distances.
WT: Do you know of other groups working with Americans on projects — would you say it is unusual?
I personally don’t know other groups working with Americans on such a project, and even if there are other groups, they would be as careful and discreet about it as we are, because such works probably become life-threatening to the Iraqis who are living here.