The Translator

One of my students at the college where I taught a summer workshop was a young Iraqi who had worked as a translator for the US military. He adamantly opposed the US occupation of his country and spoke to me about the destruction and splintering of Iraq. When the US invaded, he was a high school student living a fairly normal life. As a naive kid, at first he was excited, but soon circumstances and utter chaos forced him to make choices he never would have dreamed of in order to survive. He worked in the Green Zone, was threatened by insurgents, lived in fear for his life, and finally became a translator with Special Forces where he was caught between his own people and the actions of the US military. He was afraid that if the US withdrew from Iraq before he got an exit visa, he would be killed. I met him two years after he came to the US where his outrage at what Iraq had been subjected to had only grown. He would not appear on camera out of security concerns, but, after hesitating, agreed to an audio interview. He wanted to tell his story and finally speak his mind about the ruin of his country and his life. I decided to animate his narrative – a new medium for me as I am basically a camerawoman.

I created a hand-drawn storyboard and with Rachael Purdy, an animator in England, made a short trailer, actually two versions – an animatic of the drawings and a more polished Flash piece.

The voice has been slightly altered to protect his identity.

The Flash version can be seen on the Indiegogo campaign page I just started.

My next step is to begin the actual animation which begins with his life before the US invasion, then moves to the occupation and experiences and conflict as a translator, to his flight from Iraq. I will also show some of his life in the United States.

What makes The Translator out of the ordinary is this is Iraq as told by an Iraqi, not an American. He is articulate, sensitive and discerning. His story is direct and sometimes brutal, stripped of myth.

The United States destroyed Iraq. Let an Iraqi be heard.