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The Green Wave

by on July 15, 2011
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Using interviews, live amateur footage and arresting and haunting animation, writer/director Ali Samadi Ahadi tells the tale of the Iranian protests of the summer of 2009 from the inside out.

The events inside Iran are mostly veiled to Western eyes other than the carefully leaked images allowed by state-run media. But using social networking tools like blogs and Twitter, an untold number of young people brushed back that veil to reveal the truth, if only briefly.

The uprising, sometimes called the Green Revolution, gives this powerful documentary its name. That color represented the Muslim faith of millions of protesters who rose up to fight against an authoritarian regime that had lost the faith of its people. In the end, the Iranian leaders kept power through a brutal stomping of their nation’s dreams and aspirations.

The real shame of this period is that the West, and the United States in particular, did little or nothing to stop the violence. Even as images of uniformed or plainclothes policeman shooting, stomping and slashing at random protesters filtered out into international media, we remained silent beyond a few impotent murmurings about human rights.

Our passivity stands in stark contrast to the bravery of the Green organizers and participants, many of whom are interviewed where they now reside in exile. They include journalists, bloggers, lawyers, Muslim scholars and even a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

But the most powerful moments in “The Green Wave” come from animated sequences (by Ali Reza Darvish) that reenact scenes described in Iranian blogs and Internet postings that made it past the state censorship filters.

There’s the affecting story of a young bespectacled man who is arrested, beaten and tortured, thrown in with a sea of other battered prisoners who are raped and brutalized all over again.

For me, the most powerful moment comes from a young woman whose cousin is part of the militia carrying out these atrocities. We see things ever so briefly through his eyes and begin to understand his shame and anger, as well as how their religious leaders manipulated them into believing they were following the word of God.

Searing, insightful and fiercely urgent, “The Green Wave” reflects a powerful tide of basic human yearning — for freedom, for respect and for the right to be heard.

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