The Taleem Project
Telling Stories That Matter

Baktash is the founder of the Taleem Project which is dedicated to storytelling, conflict resolution, and engaging others with a sense of openness and radical curiosity. This project is about humanizing those deemed as “the other”. In a world of conflict and war, people flee their homelands far and away by necessity and arrive in our towns, communities, and neighborhoods.

The Taleem Project is about bringing once perceived distant worlds together to find common ground and understanding through storytelling and facilitating conversations about identity, race, and finding a sense of home and belonging. What is required of us in these moments is courage, and most of all, imagination – imagination of a world we do not yet know.


This project is devoted to developing language, frameworks, and stories around imagination, courage, and compassion in a world united in our diversity, not divided because of it.

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  • The questions that guide our work are as follows:

  • 1) How do we want to be in relationship with each other?

  • 2) Who do we want to be for each other, and for ourselves?

  • 3) What is required of me to be a good neighbor, citizen, and ancestor?

As the founder, Baktash directs, produces, translates, and contributes to documentary films that are in alignment with Taleem Project’s mission to share the most compelling stories that tell a uniquely nuanced perspective to garner a greater sense of understanding and awareness. Baktash is particularly drawn to stories related to conflict, forced migration, refugees, and vulnerable and underrepresented communities. 

His award winning films have been screened at SXSW Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Hot Docs, BFI London Film Festival, AFI DOCS and hundreds of other festivals. Films that Baktash has contributed to have won more than dozens of jury and audience awards, Cinema Eye Honors nominations, Peabody Awards, Shortlisted for the Oscar nominations, and won multiple Emmy awards. 

He also supports other filmmakers from concept to impact campaign as an executive producer and impact producer. Please reach out to him if you are interested in collaborating with your specific storytelling project at:


Soul Wounds

In-Production | Director

Soul Wounds
is a cinema vérité documentary which captures the stories of four combat veterans and their struggles with mental health and how they are finding a greater connection with themselves through the magical healing power of horses. The participants of the documentary have varying degrees of mental health challenges. The participants, though, all have one thing in common, they have all served in combat in Afghanistan. The participants include four combat veterans (two Afghan veterans – a man and a woman, and two American veterans – a man and a woman). These four perspectives give greater context for combat experience writ large, as well as the spectrum of mental health struggles that veterans may have upon trying to navigate everyday life. Lastly, this documentary will highlight the similarities and differences between Afghan and American notions of mental health, PTSD, and moral injury.

Download the PDF here and reach out if interested in becoming a producing partner.

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Documentary Feature | Executive Producer

Baktash Ahadi was an Executive Producer of RETROGRADE, offers a cinematic and historic window onto the end of America's twenty-year war in Afghanistan and the costs endured for those most intimately involved from rarely seen operational control rooms to the frontlines of battle to the chaotic Kabul airport during the final U.S. withdrawal. The feature documentary from National Geographic Films premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in 2022, where it received wide-spread critical acclaim. RETROGRADE was shortlisted for an Academy Award®, nominated for a DGA and PGA Award, and was nominated for six Emmy® awards, winning for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary, Outstanding Cinematography, and Outstanding Editing. It also received a Producing Award from DOC NYC, and was honored with the Edward R. Murrow Award for Feature Documentary. Most recently, it won the 2023 Grierson Trust Award for Televisual Best Current Affairs Documentary.

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Muslim in Trump’s America

Documentary Feature | Featured In Film  

In this second of two ITV Exposure films on Trump’s America, Emmy Award-winning director Deeyah Khan investigates what it’s like to be a Muslim in a country where many people feel you don’t belong. Since 2015, anti-Muslim hate groups, conspiracy theories and hate crimes have all risen. Deeyah meets the family of a Kansas farmer serving 30 years for an anti-Muslim bomb plot, and films with a right wing, armed militia who believe in conspiracy theories that Muslims are trying to take over America. Filming before and during the coronavirus pandemic and while events following the death of George Floyd unfolded around her in America, Deeyah meets ordinary Muslims whose lives have been shattered by violence and intolerance, along with campaigners who are trying to combat a rising tide of hatred.

2021 Peabody Award Winning Film

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Documentary Feature | Associate Producer, Translator, and Film Ambassador

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape  – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth.

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Afghanistan by Choice

Documentary Short | Translator

For Afghans, the choice to leave or stay in Afghanistan right now is an unremitting dilemma. The deteriorating security in the last few years has already prompted many to leave. The resiliency of Afghans is being tested almost daily, as they weigh the risks of staying versus the risks of leaving with every new explosion, kidnapping, or human rights injustice. Still, the choice to leave is not a simple one.

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With This Breath I Fly

Documentary Feature | Associate Producer, Translator

With This Breath I Fly presents an intimate portrait of two courageous Afghan women fighting for their freedom after being imprisoned for “moral crimes,” while exposing the complicity of the European Union in censoring their voices, and how the international press – and our documentary – forever alters their lives.

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Ahmad Zahir (In-Progress)

Documentary Feature

ZAHIR explores the extraordinary life of Afghanistan’s legendary rock n’ roll icon, Ahmad Zahir, through the eyes of his only daughter, Shabnam. As she undertakes a personal quest to understand the legacy of the father she never knew and solve the mystery of his death, Shabnam will unveil Afghanistan’s lost “Golden Age” of the 60s and 70s that Ahmad Zahir’s music still recalls for Afghans across the world. In doing so, she will challenge her perceptions of a country that was plunged into 40 years of war mere months after he was murdered.

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