Plight Of Afghan Translators Echoes 2019’s “From Baghdad To The Bay”
- 2 years ago
SDFF 2019 Selection Gives Context, Human Stakes to Heated Public Discourse
The recent withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has triggered intense public discourse about the fate of translators and other contractors who helped the U.S. military effort and are now at-risk in their own country. The situation and its fevered politicization echo the U.S. departure from Iraq, which can help give context to the current debate and clarify what’s at stake. The SDFF 2019 selection, From Baghdad to the Bay (Erin Palmquist, 2019) tells the story of Iraqi interpreter Ghazwan Alsharif, who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. during the second gulf war, and was held at a black site after it ended, before finally being granted asylum in the U.S. While his story is “happy” in the sense that he eventually ends up in San Francisco where he is able to come out of the closet and live openly as a gay man for the first time in his life, his experience of living so far from his home abd family is clearly a bittersweet and conflicted, full of heart-ache. The documentary is an intense and nuanced character study that helps illuminate the human cost of this situation. It also documents the importance of translators and other local contractors to U.S. military efforts, shows the various threats faced by those that help U.S. forces against hostile regimes abroad, and gives emotional nuance to the complex experience of living as a refugee.