The Green Wave
By Ali Samadi Ahadi
Cinema Guild, 2011, 80 minutes
"The Green Wave" by filmmaker Ali Samadi Ahadi combines animation, film footage, interviews, and actual blog posts to record the “lost or silenced voices” of the Iranian 2009 elections. In the preceding years under president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran had experienced numerous economic problems despite their lucrative oil revenues. As a result of the economic suffering, the Iranian people united behind the opposition candidate Mir- Hossein Mousavi during Ahmadinejad’s campaign for reelection. Spearheaded by the Iranian youth, Mousavi’s wide appeal reached across generations and political affiliations. Not only did Mousavi hold the support of established figures such as Cleric and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami and activist Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of a former Prime Minister, he awoke the previously apathetic youth with an energetic and naïve nationalism. For nearly three weeks, the fever spread as people spontaneously poured into the streets and adorned with green flags and arm bands. While Ahadi’s animation holds together the re-creation of the aborted elections, his interspersions of real film footage from Mousavi rallies documents the infectious optimism.
However, like his American arch enemy, Ahmadinejad had an alternative plan for the election. Polling stations either ran out of the confusing ballots or closed early. Never a good sign, newspapers and phone networks were shut down and foreign journalists were told to leave. Nevertheless, crowds took to the streets in non-violent protest where they were met by the knives and bullets of militiamen and plainclothesmen. As in Syria, hospitals became a convenient round up to fill the prisons. Iranian Spiritual leader Khamenei’s support for Ahamadinejad’s policy of violent terror and fear accelerated the tensions and drastic spiritual disillusionment. Ahadi’s deft use of slices of animation to speak the unspeakable adds an unexpected emotional realism to the prison and torture scenes. His montage explores the loss of humanity within the militia, as one young man confides his fear and confesses he is ‘too ashamed to pray.” While the Israeli rhetoric about Iranian nuclear capabilities becomes more hysterical, Ahadi’s film "The Green Wave" not only records the abuses of the Ahamadinejad’s reign but also presents an alternative Iranian society that values human dignity and political transparency. Because of the brave and costly commitment of Iranian youth, "The Green Wave" carries a significance relevant in any American university class on activism, human rights, or foreign policy.
This review appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 18, no. 66
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