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Ithaca College to Host Premiere Screening of Documentary on Iraqi Translators

ITHACA, NY — A documentary depicting the challenges of translating during a violent conflict between two very different cultures and languages will have its premiere screening at Ithaca College on Thursday, Dec. 9. “Shooting the Messenger” will be shown at 6 p.m. in Textor 103, with a discussion to follow led by Hayder Assad, a former translator who now teaches Arabic at Ithaca College. Light refreshments featuring Middle Eastern foods will also be provided at the end of the presentation, which is free and open to the public.

“Shooting the Messenger” was written, directed and produced by Ithaca College seniors Katie Zimmerman, Kaitlyn Rich and Amy Born. The students interviewed Iraqi translators and interpreters employed by the United States in order to tell the important stories of their struggles, successes and hopes for the future.

“These brave Iraqis became United States collaborators in hopes of helping their country but are frequently targeted by extremists,” said Zimmerman. “Thousands of translators and interpreters have been injured, hundreds have been killed and very few have made it safely to the United States.”

Zimmerman says that the United States is currently falling short of its obligation to protect the Iraqis who have helped throughout the Iraq War. Due to complicated visa and asylum processes, few are able to enter the U.S. and are left to be threatened and killed by those who see them as traitors to their country.

The Iraqis featured in the film include Suhaib, who worked at a police academy that trained Iraqi security forces; Ahmed, whose father was severely injured in a terrorist attack and uncle was kidnapped and beheaded by al-Qaida; and Sarmad, who worked as a medical translator in Abu Ghraib prison. Their full identities have been concealed in order to protect their safety.

Hayder Assad is a former translator who came to the United States after being threatened, settling in Ithaca with his family with the help of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. He currently teaches in the Ithaca College Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and is pursuing a master’s degree from the Roy H. Park School of Communications.

The List Project is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 in the belief that America has a clear and urgent moral and strategic obligation to protect Iraqis who are imperiled due to their affiliation with the United States. It has helped thousands of Iraqis as they try to navigate a complicated refugee resettlement process. For more information on how to get involved with the List Project, visit

Zimmerman is majoring in international studies, Rich in journalism and Born in politics and German. Their documentary project was funded in part by a School of Humanities and Sciences Educational Grant Initiative Award. The student group IC Human Rights, for which Zimmerman serves as president, is a cosponsor of the screening.

For more information, contact Zimmerman at