Iraq’s continuing middle class refugee disaster is a crucial but unacknowledged reason why durable peace in Iraq remains so elusive. Forty percent of the country’s professional class is now displaced in neighboring Syria and Jordan. Without them, Iraq still lacks reliable electricity, clean water, sanitation, and health-care services. This is an unmitigated disaster for Iraq, a shattered nation that desperately needs its native professional class to return and help itself rebuild.
THE UNRETURNED, filmed in Syria and Jordan in 2008, lets the displaced Iraqi middle class speak for itself. Shot in verité style, with unscripted narration by the refugees in the film, THE UNRETURNED vividly portrays the lives of five displaced Iraqis from diverse ethnicities and religions. Caught in an absurdist purgatory of endless bureaucracy, dwindling life savings, and forced idleness, these Iraqis nevertheless radiate vitality and warmth.
Nathan Fisher received an MA in documentary film from the New School University in New York. He previously was a producer and assistant editor for GIMME DELTA! (2008), a documentary on suburban development and urban sprawl in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was recently awarded a Jerome Foundation grant for emerging artists.