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Friday, August 24, 2012 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.
'The Green Wave': High hopes turn to despair in Iran revolution
By Tom Keogh
Special to The Seattle Times
With its unusual alchemy of underground video footage, comic-book-like animation, conventional interviews and archived posts from blogs and Twitter, Ali Samadi Ahadi's "The Green Wave" is a wrenching but illuminating look at what actually happened during Iran's Green Revolution in 2009-10.
Ahadi guides us through the days and weeks of initial exhilaration and hope shared by hundreds of thousands of Iranians in Tehran and elsewhere, as they sensed a real possibility that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's controversial president, could lose a re-election bid.
It's impossible not to be moved by extensive footage of passionate rallies (accented by the ubiquitous color green) full of the joyful tears, smiles and dances of ordinary people. As one interviewee says, this revolution wasn't simply about rebellion. It was about the sea change that happens when a repressed population suddenly feels freedom, human rights and opportunities within reach.
But then Ahadi plunges viewers into a pit of despair, recalling how the election strongly appeared to have been stolen by Ahmadinejad. Through real-life blog entries, narrated by composite (and animated) characters, we learn people knew government forces would retaliate against the still-protesting Greens.
With journalists kept away, unarmed citizens took to cellphones to capture video and post tweets about their own savage massacre at the hands of security forces. Ahadi has compiled an extraordinary amount of those blurry images and bursts of text, and what they reveal is enraging, sickening.
Yet the most shocking, almost unbearable material in "The Green Wave" is animated passages of murder, torture and rape mostly inflicted on young people. "The Green Wave" is a portrait of a nation eating itself alive.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
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