An Interview on Barzan

The investigative documentary, Barzan, held it’s second screening today, and we caught up with two-thirds of the film’s creative triumvirate, Bradley Hutchinson and

Sarah Stuteville, to talk the project’s meaning, ambition and Sarasota.

Talk to me about the film



It’s about the war on terror, looking back after 10 or 12 years on what that looked like, especially for immigrants to the states. It’s also about the immigration system now.



It’s really a before and after. We go out of our way to capture this idea of optimism that refugees, especially, bring to this country. When they’re here, it’s a realization of a dream. For Sam, 9-11 happened, and since he’s from Iraq, he was drawn in to this thing that took his life apart piece by piece. Most people would be so broken by an experience like that, but Sam, – I don’t know- he draws something from within himself, and he’s really charismatic and warm still. His innocence or guilt isn’t actually in question, because our immigration courts are so broken. He never got a fair trial, because you don’t get a trial.



It’s about two of the darkest themes in the last decade of our country: the broken immigration system and the war on terror. This family encapsulates the dark tragedy of both of those themes in American culture.


How did this project come together?



Barzan stemmed from a documentary challenge movie we made called It’s in the P.I. about the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. We had such a good experience we just grew from there.



Specifically on the story, I, along with co-director Alex Stonehill, are international journalist, and we were going to the Middle East to report on refugee populations. We were headed to Iraq and heard a guy form our hometown, Seattle, had recently been deported back there and accused of being a terrorist. The story really comes from being terrified to meet him. We were going to Iraq to meet a man accused of terrorism, and we were terrified. We ended up meeting this man whom was one of the kindest, most approachable and charismastic people we could imagine. It was the opposite of what we expected, and we knew it was a story.


What is your ambition for the film?



Right now, we are taking a year to do a festival run, which Sarasota is the first. We are very appreciative of that. After that, we are going to do an educational run where we go into colleges and talk about it. The nice thing about Alex and Sarah is they teach at University of Washington, are articulate journalist and their trade is to show young people how to be entrepreneurial journalists.



We want to raise awareness about the immigration system, courts, how unjust and unfair they are and how many people have been caught up and ground up by them. This is the story of one man, Sam Malakandi, and his family, but I think it’s a story that represents the story of thousands of families across the country.

It’s an opportunity to reflect on how our country has dealt with the war on terror over the last 10 years. Our generation in particular is at a really unique point to look back  and ask ourselves, “What did we do right, but what did we do wrong? What does this mean moving forward? How do we not repeat those mistakes again?” I think it’s important. Part of us, the people our age, want to move on from the war on terror and not think about it anymore, but I think it’s really important that we reflect right now.



The systems are built in such an ad hoc way. That’s what sucks about the immigration system is it doesn’t have a constitutional document to base how it’s ran. It has no foundation. It’s a little disrespectful to people whom want to be an American, to work our shitty jobs and do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true in this country. It’s disrespectful to their ambition.



A country like ours, that is as powerful and complex as the United States is, we constantly need to be examining ourselves and our systems. What’s working and what isn’t? We are in a position to do that right now.


To close it out, what do you think of our city? How has everyone treated you?



We come from Seattle where right now it’s 35 degrees and raining. You are talking to Washingtonians, we’ll get in that water over there, and we don’t care if it’s 65 degrees out. It’s such a warm city. Everyone has been so wonderful



The thing I love about the South is that people are authentic, and they are unironically in to being like ‘hey buddy, what’s happening?’ It’s been great.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s