Prior to Alive in Baghdad, Boston-based journalist and documentary filmmaker Brian Conley worked on traditional documentary films that dealt with issues of social consciousness, including Libertad y Justicia, para Todos: un centavo mas, Trading Freedom, and The Miami Model.
He began Alive in Baghdad in November 2005 with the goal of helping Americans understand that Iraqis are not as different from them as popular media coverage might lead them to believe. Conley’s first trip to Baghdad focused on creating videos that show the day-to-day world of Iraqis under occupation, but the subsequent trips resulted in the creation of an Iraqi team of videojournalists to create a broader national picture.
The motley Middle Eastern staff is comprised of everyone from Qasem Dulaimi, an ex-Iraqi Army soldier, to Isam Rasheed, a translator and video engineer trained in Scotland with the UK’s Channel 4.
On the American side, those helping the effort include primary editor Steve Wyshywaniuk and videographer and longtime collaborator Kevin Hart, all striving to make this online video alt-press as timely and well-produced as possible. (Vlogger king Michael Verdi of NODE101, FreeVlog, Have Money Will Vlog, and Vloggercon and Jay Dedman of Momentshowing and Videoblogging Group were also part of the original crew, but are now no longer involved in the project.)
This is true citizen journalism at its finest. Granted, the videos are low budget and of minimal production quality, but you’re not going to find content this intriguing or revealing anywhere else. Each raw, minimally edited installment varies in length from 5 to 15 minutes, and is incredibly effective.
This is not a website about politics. It’s a moving portrayal of everyday people in harm’s way, showing the uncensored atrocities of war in full, plain view. Some videos talk about curfews, which curtail Baghdad denizens from enjoying their city at night, and some talk about children born poisoned by depleted uranium dust. All of Conley’s chosen topics are equally riveting, because no matter how everyday the subject matter may occasionally seem, he makes us realize that each individual act of oppression is a cultural atrocity, whether it results in death or a lower quality of life.
Some of the footage contains explicit and potentially upsetting content. For example, some may find video discussing depleted uranium birth defects at the Baghdad Hospital Children’s Ward rather disturbing.