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From Baghdad to The Bay is a documentary that follows the journey of an Iraqi refugee and former translator for the US military. Wrongfully accused of being a double agent, tortured by the U.S. and ostracized from his family and country, Ghazwan Alsharif struggles to rebuild his life in the United States while coming out as an openly gay man.

Keeping Up With Ghazwan (blog)

We're Back - 2019 Screenings!S

Kat Cole

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Our 2019 screenings are already starting to line up and we can't wait to see you at one soon! We are excited to say that we are expanding our reach to New Zealand with a special screening at Doc Edge Pride! Then it's back to the states to Colorado's Durango Film Festival, and we are especially excited to share two more screenings close to the Bay Area: Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival and Sonoma Film Festival. See below for more details and help spread the news!

One of the most common questions filmmakers are asked at festivals is, "So, what are you working on next?" For some filmmakers who are lucky to secure large distribution deals, much of the hard work is in the past at this stage. However, for the majority of filmmakers, what happens after a film is finished for festivals is far more complex. So, below I've provided a production update to give you a peek behind the curtain at what the From Baghdad to The Bay team is working on now. We hope you enjoy the tour.

Erin Palmquist and the From Baghdad to The Bay Team


Saturday 2/16 |  Doc Edge Pride Auckland, New Zealand
Sunday 2/17 | Doc Edge Pride Auckland, New Zealand
Friday 3/1 | Durango Film Festival Durango, Colorado 
Saturday 3/2 |  Durango Film Festival Durango, Colorado 
Saturday 3/30 | Sonoma International Film Festival Sonoma, California
Sunday 3/31 | Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival Sebastopol, California. With special guests: Ghazwan Alsharif, Director Erin Palmquist & Composer William Ryan Fritch

Interested in hosting a screening in your city?
Please reach out. We would love to help make this happen.

Follow us on Facebook to hear first about screening announcements and more!


Below are just a few highlights of the many tasks in progress by the team!


Editor Eli Olson

We are excited to share that, thanks to the talents of our wonderful editor Eli, an official trailer will be available soon! The edit is complete, next phase includes: music composition by our incredible composer William Ryan Fritch, text graphics and a sound mix. FUN FACT: The teaser you see online now was actually edited before the film was! It's time to get legit!

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Associate Producer, Kat Cole

Without Kat, we would be lost! Kat is helping with everything left, right and center! She is managing our festival submissions - which is a far bigger task than one would think. She is also: supporting our many efforts to prepare the film for broadcast & distribution, coordinating Spanish translation for the film (more on that in coming newsletters), working on community screenings planning, ensuring we stay on track, etc, etc!

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Assistant Editor, Scott Schwerdtfeger

Scott has just finished the huge task of creating an exhaustive multi-tab spreadsheet that lists every detail about each image and sound that you see and hear in the film. We use this log to ensure that we have properly licensed everything in the film that was not recorded, and thus owned, by Erin. In order to be able to broadcast the film, we must pass a legal review and obtain Errors & Omissions Insurance. This log is part of that process. More interesting information on this to come in the next newsletter.

Archival Consultant, Emily Calhoun

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We are very excited to be working with Emily again to finalize all the details around our use of archival footage in the film! For example, footage provided by various news organizations taken during the Iraq War. She brings invaluable experience to the project in two parts. First, she is helping us upgrade our current festival-only contracts to contracts that allow us to distribute and broadcast the film. Also, we have 8 clips of footage from the Iraq war for which we are still trying to find the owners for. For the past year we have been doing our due diligence trying to track down leads on potential owners and we have made great progress. Emily has joined us again to apply her keen sensibilities and deep knowledge of archival footage to find the end of the winding trail our research has taken us on since we worked with her last. We have three paths we will ultimately have to choose from: 1) We will find the owners and license the footage. 2) If we find the owners but are unable to license for some reason, we will have to find replacement footage. We feel this particular footage is so important that this will be the least desirable outcome. 3) If we are unable to find owners of the clips, we will claim Orphan Work. We will also share a bit more on what this means in the next newsletter. Welcome to the Filmmaking Rabbit Hole!

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Director Erin Palmquist

As a first-time feature filmmaker, I thought the hard part was making the film. As I explore the world of distribution and broadcast, I now see that film production is just the tip of the iceberg! For independent filmmakers, the process of ensuring that your film gets seen is far more complex and consuming than I ever imagined it would be. Ultimately, I made this film not only to help Ghazwan share his story but also to help bring about change for many people. In order for that to happen, the film must get seen. So, these days, among other tasks, I spend my time finalizing the film to package it for broadcast, educational and digital distribution, outreach to potential broadcasters and distributors, finding creative ways to bring money in to support the work, meeting with consultants and fellow filmmakers to learn as I go, and strategic planning for outreach & engagement to ensure this film makes it into the hands of those who can benefit from it most. It is like learning three new careers! As I go, I am also doing my best to pass on my learnings to other filmmakers who are embarking on the journey of making their first feature length documentaries. 

We hope to have much news to share on the outcomes of all this work in the year ahead. Thank you so much for following along and making our work meaningful!

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much
— Helen Keller
We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.
— S. Kelley Harrell


Last month From Baghdad to The Bay was invited to screen at Stanford as part of the Camera as Witness Program's HUMAN DIGNITY series. 

It was a fantastically rainy Tuesday night and still the seats were all filled!

Special thanks to Jasmina Bojic,  Lourdes V. Andrade, Matthew Alexander Clarke, and Alejandro Andrade for making this possible.

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