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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)

Our 6th Award!

Kat Cole


We've received our 6th film festival award!

The Celebration of Courage Award for Outstanding Documentary Film is the highest award from OUT HERE NOW: the Kansas City LGBT Film Festival! Screening details below.

We are grateful for the wonderful community of support that has emerged around Ghazwan's story and thankful that we can continue to share this film with new audiences.

In this newsletter we're highlighting several of the folks in our FBTTB community, including Ghazwan and his ongoing event, ASHEq, and some awesome students in Chile who made possible our Spanish captions.

We're also happy to share From Baghdad to The Bay's new official trailer! And, there's more. The film has just been released for educational distribution. Watch the trailer and see more details below.

Erin Palmquist and the From Baghdad to The Bay Team



As many of you know from the film, Ghazwan is active in our local LGBTQ community, founding and organizing ASHEq. Ghazwan hosts ongoing events for the Middle East North Africa LGBTQ community in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

ASHEq first started in November 2014 at a small neighborhood club in SF with about 65 supporters. It's grown significantly over the years, with over 400 guests in attendance at their last event!

Ghazwan invites you to come and get your shake on -"We are all colors, all genders, all religions and none believers. We LOVE dancing and ENJOY life. WE WELCOME ANYONE!"


Ghazwan cheering for the fabulous Sophia when she performed at the very first ASHEq!


"Date a Middle Eastern"
Saturday, 6/15 at SF Oasis
*No Cover charge from 4-7pm

Queer Dance Party
Friday, 8/23, 10pm - 3pm at SF Oasis

Follow ASHEq on Facebook to learn more and hear about other upcoming events.


Check it out and pass it along!

Editor: Eli Olson | Music: William Ryan Fritch | Motion Graphics: Matthew Baldwin of Bay
Area Film Company | Audio Mix: Dan Olmsted


Ghazwan's story will soon be available in Spanish!

A warm thank you to Professor Patricia Quezada and her students at UNIACC University, in Santiago, Chile.

As part of the student's final degree projects, they provide pro-bono subtitles for selected films. They prioritize independent films (like ours), who often struggle with having a budget for translation.

We are very grateful for Professor Quezada and her students' hard work over these last several months. Without their help this would not have been possible. We are thrilled to make this film more widely accessible.

Left to Right: Vicente Araujo, Patricia Quezada, Ricardo Lienlaff and Raimundo Aldunate

Left to Right: Vicente Araujo, Patricia Quezada, Ricardo Lienlaff and Raimundo Aldunate


We just passed a major milestone - we have finally released the film for educational distribution!

This was a challenging learning process for us. Huge thanks to Associate Producer, Kat Cole for helping drive this along and keeping us on time and Assistant Editor, Scott Schwerdtfeger for helping tackle some technical snafus! Also, thanks to Drew McGaraghan for helping us design our beautiful disc and case art. So glad DVDs are alive & well in the educational market, or this would be a lost art.

After much discussion with other filmmakers and several distribution houses, we ultimately decided to self-distribute the film. After navigating the technical minefield of closed captioning, subtitling and what it takes to master a DVD, we have finally arrived! Today we launched an email campaign to librarians across the country to encourage them to add the film to their libraries for educators to use in their curriculum. We hope this film will have it's greatest impact with the students of today, who will be shaping our tomorrow.

Over the past year at festivals, in classrooms, and at community screenings, the film has sparked important and life-changing reaction from viewers. Not only for those who relate directly to one or more facets of Ghazwan’s story, but also for those who live on the outside of his experiences harboring misconceptions and stereotypes.

Beyond film festivals, we have screened in secondary school classrooms to senior centers and the emotional reactions are universal. Our young generation, many of whom struggle with mental health issues, is particularly inspired by Ghazwan's ability to overcome his suicidal thinking and believe in himself regardless of the adversity that he has faced. Older generations reflect on personal experiences with past wars and are engaged to learn about the progress made by, and the struggles of, the generations that have followed theirs. We are particularly excited to be bringing this film to colleges and universities where the next generation of influencers are being cultivated.


We could use your help!

Because we are self-distributing, we would be grateful for your help spreading the news. If you know of any educators who would be interested in the film, please feel free to pass this along to them.

a mandatory educational tool
— Jasmina Bojic | Lecturer, International Relations, Stanford University

Educational distribution sounds great, but when can I get it?

We are working hard and hope to make the film available to the public in early 2020. Stay tuned, this will be a triumphant milestone that we look forward to celebrating!

In the meantime, if you or someone you know would like to host a screening, please reach out. We would love to help make this happen!