By Jason Apuzzo. In June of 2009, at the height of last summer’s anti-government protests in Iran, an innocent bystander named Neda Agha-Soltan was shot by a Basij (government-backed) militiaman thug named Abbas Kargar Javid. Soltan died shortly thereafter, her death captured on video by several protesters armed with cell phones. The videos soon went viral, and aided by Twitter and other social media immediately became the source of a worldwide scandal that threatened to bring down the Iranian regime.
This evening HBO is presenting a documentary by Antony Thomas telling Neda’s story, which is perforce the story of the aborted revolution of last summer. The documentary is called For Neda, and HBO has wisely made it available on YouTube so that anyone can see it. We’ve embedded the English-language version of the documentary above, but it’s also available in Farsi and in Arabic.
Many of you reading this site are probably already familiar with the circumstances of this story, which received massive worldwide attention last year. Suffice it to say that due to both her beauty – and what we now know to be her inner character, and force of conviction – Neda has become an extremely potent symbol for those who wish to bring down the awful regime that currently rules Iran. For Neda finally brings out the woman behind the symbol – feisty, independent and complex. It’s important that her full story be told. As an aside, it is certainly no consolation to her friends and family, but I hope it brings them some inner satisfaction that Neda continues to haunt the current regime – a regime bent on effacing the role of women in society and all that women represent: love, compassion, beauty, life itself.
It’s worth mentioning that Neda was a fledgling member of Iran’s burgeoning underground music scene – a world captured with poignancy and vitality in director Bahman Ghobadi’s recent film No One Knows About Persian Cats (see the LFM review here). For Neda makes clear, as Persian Cats did in its different way, that women like Neda Agha-Soltan are part of a younger generation that has mentally and emotionally checked-out of contemporary Iran, even while they’re still living there – a development that is both encouraging … and tragic.
The most compelling review that I’ve read of For Neda comes (not surprisingly) from The Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, who writes:
“The power of Antony Thomas’s documentary has all to do with its focus: the rage of a modern people—educated, ambitious, accomplished and now consigned to life under a regime whose enforcement of Islamic law governs every aspect of life. Surrounding Neda’s story is that larger one, related with unforgettable eloquence …”
We hope you find the documentary rewarding, and we congratulate HBO for airing it. Let’s all hope for a better future for Iran, so that such tragic stories as Neda’s need never be repeated again.
Posted on June 14th, 2010 at 11:28pm.