Sam Malkandi, an Iraqi immigrant to the US, was a beloved husband and father of two working toward his piece of the American Dream. But a footnote in the 9/11 Commission Report, connecting him to a high-level Al Qaeda operative through his childhood nickname changed everything.
“Barzan,” a documentary directed and produced by a collaboration of journalists and filmmakers, examines the case against Sam Malkandi and explores the controversial issues of immigration, xenophobia and the price of security in the 21st century. This film takes audiences on a geopolitical journey from the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War to the refugee camps of Pakistan and finally into the opaque government agencies charged with keeping us safe at all costs.
The process of making this movie was very challenging.
I’m a very process oriented, especially creatively. I use process as a container for spontaneity and chaos. It’s how I am able to produce a final product. And in that way, I see myself, especially in long-term or large group collaborations, as a facilitator of the process. On this film, my directors organized the making of this film on a more intuitive level and we worked with a much less defined process. It became difficult for me to be helpful in an above the line capacity.
Making this film underlined one of my biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses: the need to create and work within a strongly defined creative process.
That said, as a producer of a microbudget documentary film, I had to wear a lot of hats and was able to contribute below the line as well as above the line.
- As the main sound technician on the film I recorded many of the on-location interviews. This was especially fun because our access to equipment was constantly changing. I recorded into laptops and stand-alone recorders, with the microphones we had available. I am very proud of the sound of this film. We were able to make interviews recorded in very different locations with very different equipment sound cohesive and transparent.
- I also was a main 2nd camera operator. This included the 2nd camera on interviews, but also shooting B roll. Some of my favorite memories of working on this movie are standing in weird airport parking lots all day wait for planes to fly overhead so I could get a shot of them.
- I also composed the soundtrack to this film. You can hear it on bandcamp.
- Above the line, I also contributed to the film in other ways. I helped shape the creative plan for shooting and helped on the backend / business side as support for the Executive Producer.
Bazan screened in film festivals all over the country, and is distributed by Traverse and is available on