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From Baghdad to the Bay

Logline: An Iraqi refugee and former translator for the U.S. military wrongfully accused of espionage, tortured by the U.S., and ostracized from his family and country must rebuild his life in the United States while coming out as an openly gay man.

Elevator Pitch: 
From Baghdad to The Bay sheds light on the invisible LGBT communities in the Middle East whose lives are under constant threat and combats the xenophobia that has taken hold of the U.S. political dialogue today.

By following eight tumultuous years in Ghazwan Alsharif’s journey as a refugee in the U.S., the film explores the pervasive aftermath of war alongside the universal, and often painful, struggles of immigrants and refugees all over the world.

It is a liberating story of perseverance amidst extreme adversity and a raw personal look at one man’s harrowing journey to be true to himself. 

Production Team:
Director Erin Palmquist is an independent filmmaker in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has worked for such companies as Lucasfilm, National Geographic Explorer, and PBS. This is her first feature length film.

Editor Eli Olson is an Emmy Award winning film editor with a unique storytelling ability. Her extensive experience reaches into the feature film, documentary, non-fiction broadcast, and commercial realms. Eli won an Emmy for her work on “My Flesh and Blood” for HBO Films, which also won an Emmy for Best Documentary, and the Audience Award and Best Director Prizes at Sundance Film Festival. And there is so much more!

Advisor Frances Reid has been producing, directing, and shooting documentary films for over 30 years. She is the co-founder and executive director of Iris Films, which was founded in 1975. She was the cinematographer for "Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter" and the Oscar award nominated documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk." She was nominated for an Academy Award for her short documentary "Straight from the Heart." Her other films include "Skin Deep" and "Long Night’s Journey into Day" about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which won the Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Advisor and Writer Erica Marcus has been working on documentary and narrative films for more than twenty years. She began her film career working in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, she assisted the Cannes award winning filmmaker Hu Jin Quan (胡金铨 or King Hu). In the mid-nineties, Erica was based in China where she produced and directed "Behind the Scenes (电影与电影人)," a popular weekly prime time program on international film and film festivals. Her documentary films include "My Home, My Prison," which premiered at Sundance in the Documentary Competition and the ITVS funded film, "Alive in Limbo" about Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon. Erica is currently co-directing with Christiane Badgley, the NEH Bridging Cultures funded documentary "Guangzhou Dream Factory" about the African community in Guangzhou, China.

About the Film:
When I met Ghazwan in 2008, I became curious about the growing Iraqi refugee community in the Bay Area and what it would it be like to rebuild your life in the country that, in large part, was responsible for your displacement. Seven years after 9/11, the nation was still rife with anti-Arab sentiments and the recession was nearing its lowest ebb. Ghazwan’s story addresses issues of belonging, acculturation, and homophobia. I am making this documentary because I believe in supporting people, like Ghazwan, who are willing to risk everything in hopes of a better world for generations to come.

Current Status: We have completed production and are now fundraising for post production.

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