Z Fest director Alshaibi’s sexually explicit debut film premieres Sept. 25 at Film Center

Z Film Festival program director Kristie Alshaibi’s debut feature, the explicit and experimental “Other People’s Mirrors,” has its world premiere Sept. 25 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Alshaibi stars as her recurring alter ego Echo Transgression, a schizophrenic woman who seeks trascendence by obeying hallucinated directives to violate a series of 12 sexual taboos. She created Echo in 1996 and has featured the character in a series of video, web, photo, performance and fiction pieces.

“I began exploring this notion of reseraching my missing identity, and then came up with the idea of flipping it around to show the perspective of the identity who is being pursued by me,” Alshaibi said. “This developed into an entire paranoid world, filled with phantom agents and neural transmissions.”

Underground legend Nick Zedd plays the “alien phantom” Narcissus, who directs Echo’s journey through an antenna in her spine. Alshaibi credits Zedd as an influence along with his Cinema of Trangression contemporaries Richard Kern and Beth and Scott B., as well as the Dogme 95 movement and the writings of George Bataille.

DP Richard Bluestein shot on DV throughout 2000 on a $30,000 budget raised from private investors.

A freelance videographer, editor, video instructor and web designer, Alshaibi runs the four-year-old Z Film Festival with her husband and fellow transgressive filmmaker Usama Alshaibi, the Chicago Historical Society’s audio and video archivist.

The Alshaibis recently completed the 35mm short “Convulsion Expulsion,” a follow-up to “Other People’s Mirrors,” They are currently working on the script for another Echo feature, to be shot against the backdrop of several different cities.

“I’m specifically choosing cities that, because of their geographic positions, may go through drastic climatic changes in the future,” Alshaibi said. “My presence in these places has a dual purpose ? to take inventory of spaces that are supposed to be on the verge of extinction, and to once again pick up clues about Echo’s location and activities.”

Alshaibi plans the new feature as her PhD thesis for the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland, where she’ll study under Peter Greenaway (“The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”) and Catherine Breillat (“Romance”).

“Other People’s Mirrors” screens Saturday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. at the Film Center, 164 N. State, followed by the 10-minute making-of doc “Gang Bang Auditions.” Alshaibi will attend.

The Alshaibis host Sleaze Z Fest Saturday, Oct. 23 at Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor.

Alshaibi’s Artvamp LLC is at 333 W. North Ave., #123. See www.artvamp.com.

? by Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com

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