Alive in Baghdad was formed with the intent of making the world, and particularly the United States, aware of the Iraqi experience. The body of media available thus far has at best personalized and made comprehensible the occupation force, and at worst, otherized the Iraqis, classifying them as terrorists and encouraging Americans to ask the misleading question “Why do they hate us?” Instead Alive in Baghdad will encourage Westerners to ask questions about the similarity of life between working Americans and working Iraqis, to wonder about the strength of resolve it takes to continue supporting your family against all odds under occupation. We will encounter those who do not join the resistance despite the lack of any viable employment and survival in a manner that remains neutral to the occupation, as well as those who feel the resistance or the occupation are the only options.
Alive in Baghdad will be operating under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. We believe that by making all of the media created by the project free for distribution, editing, and re-use, we can ensure that the widest audience is able to see this alternative view from Iraq. All media will be hosted by infotage.net and downloadable via Bittorrent when Brian returns from Iraq. It is the Creative Commons element that is one of the main purposes for this journey to Iraq. Many great filmmakers have travelled to Iraq, but because their footage is not available online in raw format for wide distribution, we feel they are not making the impact they could. The Alive in Baghdad Project cannot hope to have the reach of CNN or FoxNews by itself, but we feel that Creative Commons licensing is the best solution to that. It is our hope that if editors and community members around the US and the world have access to this footage they will take it and use it to tell the Iraqis’ stories widely within their communities and amongst their families.
Brian Conley is a 25 year-old journalist and filmmaker. He is the founder of the Alive in Baghdad Project. During his first trip to Iraq, the Alive in Baghdad Project focused on interviewing Iraqis living in and outside Baghdad. At this point Brian is working on writing articles about the ongoing situation in Iraq and arranging the project’s second phase. Previous to his trip to Iraq, he contributed to or produced seven films, traveled the United States, worked internationally in Quebec City and Guatemala, and has been shooting video for seven years. Through his work with Indymedia he has contributed to several films with international reach, most notably two films about the FTAA, Trading Freedom and more recently The Miami Model. However it is his independent work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Miami Workers, and other organizations of Communities of Color that most define his dedication to the documentary trade. By providing a space for the voiceless, one works for a stronger dialogue and thus a stronger presence of freedom and democracy in the world. His most recent film to be completed is Libertad y Justicia, para Todos: un centavo mas, about the struggles of migrant workers in south Florida. It is the filmmaker’s hope to return to Iraq in order to continue to expand on his body of work from Iraq. As the situation in Iraq continues to evolve, he hopes to continuing covering Iraq and providing an in-depth look at the perspective of the occupied.
Rob Baker is a 27-year-old nerd who does web design & development for several non-profit organizations in the Boston Area. He maintains a weblog at http://www.simplefuture.org.
Kevin Hart is a 22-year-old videographer and techie who has worked extensively with independent and non-profit media organizations in Florida and throughout the United States. He has worked with Brian on a number of projects including The Miami Model. In addition to videography, Kevin provides computer training and support and is working toward a degree in Cultural Anthropology. He currently edits video associated with the Alive in Baghdad project and administers some portions of the alive in baghdad website.
Tania Mejer is a 26-year-old journalist who has worked at many of Boston’s newspapers, from alt-press to mainstream, weeklies to dailies. She currently works as a copy-editor and freelances as a writer, editor, designer and sometime photographer.