From Baghdad to The Bay (Documentary)

$350 of $43,000 goal

Raised by 3 people in 1 month
Created December 19, 2018
Fundraising Team
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.

We premiered at Cinequest in 2018 and won the Jury Award for Best Documentary! We are now raising funds for distribution so that this film can be available to the public.

All contributions are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE, thanks to our fiscal sponsor Center for Independent Documentary!


While we complete the necessary steps to prepare the film for a release on platforms such as iTunes and Amazon, we are also in the process of creating a strategic community screenings campaign that will bring this film to audiences across the country, and we need your help to make this possible. We believe film is most impactful when post screening Q&As and guided discussions can follow screenings. Because of this, we plan to partner with organizations across the country to coordinate community screenings. For some screenings, we will also bring communities together who may not otherwise intersect to engage in important dialogue and bridge barriers caused by fear and misunderstanding. Below are a few examples of communities that we plan to reach.

Immigrant, refugee & asylee
Military & veteran
Mental health

2018 was an incredible first year: We have screened 23 times for over 2,000 people and won four awards! With each screening, people approach Ghazwan and myself to share the impact the film has had on them. It has been a deeply moving experience!

From film festivals and high schools to senior centers and beyond, Ghazwan's film has already changed lives in profound ways and we are eager to make 2019 an even more impactful year. We hope you will join us in making this possible.

Make a year-end tax-deductible donation today to help bring this film to communities across the country.


Reason #1: Join the movement and BE A CHANGEMAKER. This film will create awareness and promote conversations about the refugee experience, LGBTQ rights and the aftermath of war. Awareness and dialogue are the first steps towards change.

Reason #2: Take a STAND AGAINST DONALD TRUMP and others who prey on people’s fears and ignorance by advancing irrational and xenophobic immigration arguments. Ghazwan’s tenacious fight to be successful in all that he does embodies the “AMERICAN DREAM” and he IS ARAB.

Reason #3: No one deserves to be punished FOR LOVE. From Baghdad to The Bay seeks to give hope to individuals everywhere who are being persecuted because of who they love. It seeks to show that healthy, successful LGBTQ people do exist in the Middle East and North Africa, region and that LGBTQ people isolated and underground around the world, are not alone.

As our immigrant and LGBTQ communities face great threat, Ghazwan's story becomes more and more relevant and important. We are a country that embraces diversity, ingenuity, compassion and love, but this message and way of living is being buried by fear and turmoil. A true embodiment of the real American dream, Ghazwan illustrates the hope and spirit that this country still inspires at a most pertinent time.

23 screenings and 2,000 audience members is amazing, but it is not nearly enough. This film has great potential to bring about incredible change, but it must be seen to do so.

No amount is too small and all contributions will go directly to support this initiative. With your support today, we can bring this film to more communities across the country and be ready to distribute the film publicly and through schools and universities.

For those of you who have supported us in the past, thank you for your past and continued support on this journey. We could not have come this far without all of you! For those of you contributing today, thank you for supporting independent film and ensuring that Ghazwan's story and the sacrifices he made continue to make change for years to come.

Erin Palmquist and the From Baghdad to The Bay Team



Your contribution is tax deductible thanks to our fiscal sponsor Center for Independent Documentary.

You could DOUBLE YOUR CONTRIBUTION! Check to see if your employer does matching contributions to charitable donations. Please contact us if you have any questions about how to process these requests: frombaghdadtothebay@gmail.com

Every dollar you contribute will go directly towards activating a community screenings campaign, finishing the film for DVD/digital and educational release. Budget details are included at the bottom of the campaign.


At a time when the conversations around immigration are so polarized, stories like this are especially important to share. Ghazwan’s story pays homage to the diverse patchwork of cultures that have been woven together by immigrants from all over the world to make the United States what it is today. Like Ghazwan, so many of these immigrants arrive here with skills and education acquired in their own countries and they work extremely hard to survive and to thrive in their new home. They have contributed greatly to the success of this country and should be acknowledged rather than ridiculed or shunned. Some refugees arrive with incredibly limited resources and our services often fall short of aiding them in their basic needs for safe housing, employment, psychological counseling, and language training. Moreover, Ghazwan and others like him still reeling from trauma brought on by living in a warzone, have had to contend with the aftermath of 9/11, with anti-Muslim/Arab bigotry and hate crimes reaching new heights. This film will spark important questions for larger discussions such as: What compassionate and comprehensive resettlement support should look like, and how government agencies, service providers, and ordinary people all play a role in integrating refugees and welcoming their diversity.



Beyond the difficult common struggles that refugees face, LGBTQ refugees are slammed with another set of complex issues.

Many Middle Eastern LGBTQ people, though they may live in San Francisco’s mostly tolerant communities, are still afraid to expose their sexual identity. Fear of persecution – of themselves and their families back home – keeps them in hiding. Paralyzing social stigma, death threats and “honor killings” still haunt LGBTQ people in Iraq and the shame of simply having a gay relative can be debilitating for Iraqi families. But this is certainly not true for all people of marginalized sexualities in the MENA region. From Baghdad to The Bay strives to bridge cultural barriers and to shatter the common misconception that all muslims are homophobic extremists.

Change is slow but change is happening. Non-governmental organizations, bloggers and activists, both in the US and the Arab world, are working very hard to protect and provide resources for marginalized sexualities and to overthrow draconian laws that prohibit homosexuality.

“Gay rights in the Middle East are not simply about gay people; they are intimately bound up with questions of personal liberty, the proper role of governments, and the influence of religion. Demands for gay rights add to the broader pressure for change and, conversely, progress in these other areas can ease the path towards gay rights.”

Brian Whitaker, The FP Group

Often people of marginalized sexualities in the Middle East and North Africa region are portrayed as mentally unstable or naive. As an educated, successful and mature man, Ghazwan defies this portrayal. He was forced to sacrifice more than most could imagine to be true to who he is. His gregarious and infectious personality captivates and inspires everyone he touches and his story has the potential to humanize LGBTQ people for those who still objectify them.

“Social attitudes might change when the general audience can relate to personal stories of LGBT people. They then will realize their son or daughter, their neighbor or colleague could be gay or lesbian.”

Boris Dittrich, Human Rights Watch



Every dollar you contribute will go directly towards activating a community screenings campaign, finishing the film for DVD/digital and educational release.

We believe you deserve to know exactly how your money is being spent, which is why we have provided you with the budget for this phase of the project below.

We are keeping expenses extremely tight. This is a bare bones budget as we feel the need to have this film in circulation is urgent.

Producing Staff (producer, associate producer, consultants): $15,500

Film Completion & Packaging Costs*: 22,260

Archival Footage & Music Rights: $5,240

Total = $43,000

*Film Completion & Packaging Costs includes, editor and assistant editor fees for final changes to prepare the film for DVD and digital distribution, archival footage and stock music license fees, website and graphic design, limited run dvd production, fiscal sponsor fee and production of a film trailer (the teaser above was edited before the film was finished and must be updated for a variety of reasons).


"The stuff that nightmares and dreams are made of. Loose-limbed, free-flowing and endlessly unpredictable From Baghdad to The Bay is a moving mirror of its subject’s persistence and generosity." - Michael Fox, KQED Arts

“Grips viewers from beginning to end.” - Don Schwartz, cineSOURCE Magazine

“A film that traces the remarkable journey Alsharif was lucky to survive.” - Sura Wood, SF Arts Magazine

“From Baghdad to The Bay, above and beyond its artistry and excellent storytelling, is an important tool for teaching and expanding understanding, particularly within cultures, environments and families that have not come to terms with the extraordinary diversity we humans evidence, particularly with respect to the gender and sexuality continuum beyond binary.” - Sasha Soheili, Viewer

“The memory and feelings I took away from this film continue to be very haunting in a good way. For me, that is the sign of a successful film.”
- Peggy Russell, Viewer


“From Baghdad to The Bay, touched me so deeply and I have spoken about it many times. In conversation with a friend, she said to me, "How could you have known?" I did not know about a dynamic in her family and it was purely serendipitous. Like Ghazwan, the husband is gay, Muslim and conformed to family and societal expectations while leading a dual life. Suffice it to say, knowing that From Baghdad to The Bay exists provided great comfort to her and might become a root of empathy as this family embraces the future gracefully, gradually accepting a new norm and preserving the caring that exists in relationships between a man, a woman and their son.” -
Anonymous Viewer

"There are so many layers of meaning in this movie that resonated with our students [San Rafael High School] and caused them to be deeply affected by the movie and the Q&A that followed. Each group mentioned that Ghazwan’s message, “Never hate; always go with love.” meant so much to them, especially in these troubled times." - Gail Siegel, Founder ForWords Literacy Lab


"From Baghdad to The Bay delicately stitches together a refugee story that reaches to the core of what it means to survive amidst devastating circumstances.  As Ghazwan’s story develops, and as various points of his story unravel simultaneously, Palmquist’s artful employment of layered narrative time evokes the process of remembering, much less the process of healing, as a reminder that one's personal history can never be relayed through a singular trajectory, but, in fact bespeaks a kaleidoscope of feeling that moves and morphs across the turbulent landscape of memory."
- Alexander Farrow, Programmer | Arab Film and Media Institute




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$350 of $43,000 goal

Raised by 3 people in 1 month
Created December 19, 2018
Fundraising Team
Funds raised will benefit:
The Center for Independent Documentary, Inc. (Cid)
Certified Charity
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Boston, MA
EIN: 042738458
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