The first documentation of the documenterian, this short doc by Jahan Azadi and Iranian citizen journalists shows the beauty and peace in the week before the June 12 Election Day, followed by the sustained violence, rape, torture, false imprisonment and death in the months after up until the present. Most foreign press left in the days after Election Day ~ Azadi is presumed to be the only one who is now in the diaspora to have shot a documentary non-fiction film while in Iran throughout the month of June 2009.
One thing that has been discounted by the official Iranian experts both in Iran and those that form part of the mediated diaspora, is that the movement will continue until its goals are achieved. As they short documents, the Iranian regime cannot kill us all. Live Uncensored Performance coming to the diaspora in Spring 2010 with Iranian performances to follow.
For the time being, raw video clips have been disabled. This is not to censor information or art at all. Instead, in the next 10 days the first documentary short in an edited form will be released to the world that details one of the most interesting phenomena of the Iranian green movement: the citizen journalists.
Unlike really any modern day event (perhaps Burma and the excellent doc Burma VJ being the exception but still quite different), have so many individuals with no training, no organization nor support system been so dedicated to becoming the journalists themselves.
What will be released in ten days time, a short entitled “The Day Neda Died,” tells the true documented story of one of these journalists, who filmed on the streets and climbed to the rooftops to film not only the aggression and death machine of the regime but much more importantly, the perseverance of the Iranian democracy.
Please be forewarned: there are strong images of violence.
I as a person detest violence and murder and always try to stray as far from possible, except of course when there is no alternative in telling the story.
As readers of this blog know, self-censorship has reared its head into the edit suite many times since I returned from Iran.
It seems that it was both a gift and somewhat of an artistic compromise that I was one of the only documentarians in Iran for the weeks surrounding the June election. What a unique experience and yet one I must tread now with precision through the memory of footage.
Of course, due to the fact that I ran free with no government interference (well accept for the times where I was almost arrested and the other times when I was followed and the other times that my phone was bugged), I ran free. To identify myself is not an option at this point.
The Iranian government, especially of late, is just a little too paranoid for its own good; I cannot trust them but then again, who can?
Okay, I understand that the fascist trajectory that the regime is now following begets censorship, but what I will never understand is how the arrests of ex-vice presidents, paralyzed journalists (through a failed State-assassination attempt) and now the reporters for Karroubi, himself the ex-Chairman of the Parliament, are fit for 21st century societies.
Should I follow with censoring the almost violent written response to one of my YouTube videos? Would this make me a better person or the same personification of the fascist regime now known as Ahmadinejad’s second term as the unelected President of Iran?
I am editing like a green flag waving with might to finish doc before the 64th UN General Assembly. Still proceeding with caution to deliver context and content without negatively impacting the community of Iranians that I filmed for three weeks both before and after the Iranian election in June 2009. Being the only foreign documentary filmmaker who was able to film throughout these weeks was both the biggest treat for democracy as well as perhaps the only unflinching document of what occurred.
We have seen the countless videos filmed from the streets and rooftops documenting the unspeakable violence inflicted on Iranians peacefully rallying against a system that ignored their voices. When the footage emerges from the rapes and deaths that the regime intentionally inflicted on detained people, will the UN demand accountability.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the clips so that I can proceed.
Unlike in Iran, please excuse the past few days of quiet on this blog.
On Wednesday, when a dramatic showing of opposition to Ahmadi’s swearing in ceremony, there was a general reading of the celebratory hug/”shoulder kiss” between the Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad: the Supreme Leader is pushing Ahmadi away as if he were the plague of death.
I re-watched it, and the CNN commentator was almost announcing the situation as if it were an American football playoff, which may have impacted my reading. But is it not Ahmadinejad who is the one in control? Is it not he who is going in for a “shoulder kiss” a sign of power over he who is kissed, which is like when a little boy who feels that he has grown into more responsibility attempts to show this to his father through spite?
And if it is Ahmadinejad who feels emboldened with the shake-up in power, I cannot think of anything more sinister that may face the Iranian people. Although most states, especially the US, have presidential policies that effectively believe all Iranian common citizens are terrorists until proven otherwise, these bodies of power have hopefully decided to take a different slant and instead determine that all Iranian cabinet members may be terrorists until proven otherwise, and the grand majority of Iranians are against the tyranny that has been playing out for the past two months.
In this time, Ahmadinejad has passed legislation that allows for internet sniffing beyond what the US even allows; he has dismissed the intelligence minister and now is the acting minister; he has revved up the hatred as found in the three million strong militant aspect of the basij & the Revolutionary Guard and they are more organized and ready for a drawn out siege on the freedom of the Iranian society; more than one hundred fifteen people have been executed by the Iranian state in the past two months (as an aside, GW Bush took almost six years to execute 152 Texan prisoners); and at least ten people who have been detained, but not charged with any crime, have been murdered while in basij custody (this last point is confirmed by the Iranian government which originally stated 20 people have been killed in the streets changing that number to 30 corresponding to those murdered while in police protection).
While in Iran, Ahmadinejad was infamous before he was appointed mayor of Tehran and later elected in 2005 as president of Iran. Before I continue, it must be stated that sometimes in Iran information is passed from person to person, sometimes not allowing for fact checking to occur. I mention the following story to highlight that perhaps unproven facts have a very powerful effect. In the first years after the revolution, Iran had imprisoned thousands of people, executing a great many of them. Many were enemies of the state, either through their words and less often, through their violent acts. Word got around to international organizations that work with human rights: they requested to visit Iranian prisons and determine the treatment that was being offered. The day before, 7000 of these prisoners were executed, with bullets. Ahmadinejad went around with the handgun after the initial shooting to make sure each prisoner was in fact dead, shooting whoever he thought was still alive in the head at point blank range. By the next morning, when the inspection occurred Iran passed with flying colors and Ahmadinejad had his first kills in this vein. For the longest period of time, I at least felt okay that Khamenei was the Supreme Leader because I didn’t think him as ruthless as Ahmadinejad: now I am even more frightened with the latest thought, which I hope proves to be ignorant, that the level of sinisterness is much more elevated with Ahmadinejad securing a buffer of insulation allowing him to kill, imprison and otherwise destroy.
The only thing that keeps my faith alive is that the Iranian people overthrew the Shah in a people movement which was summarily stolen by the Islamic factions of society. The Iranians still have vivid memories of the tyranny that existed under the monarchy and its supporters. They also have the present thoughts that the only regime that has time and time again proven itself to be worse than the Shah, is the present non-democratic condition. As an Iranian may say, “Thanks god” that the majority of Iranians are against the present condition and just like the Shah, a shake down will be coming. This shake down will be designed, implemented, organized and responsible to the Iranian people who live in Iran.
I hope, in this last paragraph, that I have never had a less ignorant thought.
YouTube offers an interesting phenomenon ~ that of being able to go back in time using the anthropology of media to pull from the archives and understand anew. In this case, Ahmadinejad sat down with an American journalist. Although edited out from the official broadcast, here Ahmadi exerts his incredible feelings of the need for Palestinians to be able to express themselves and participate fully in democracy. In these first few days after the election, many Iranians began to question why Ahmadinejad so fully supports Arab democratic participation and was so keen on stopping it in his own country. Beginning on this day, Tuesday, seven weeks ago in Iran on June 16th, for the next three days would be some of the largest and most peaceful marches seen in Tehran (the Saturday, Sunday and Monday protests and marches were all meet with violence by the regime).
Monday was the day it all changed. Yes on Saturday and Sunday, the authorities killed people; they stormed universities arresting people, throwing some students out of windows and tear gassing those who looked on for too long. The Basij militia had clearly been on the streets during the nights over the weekend as well. As we made our way to the June 15 march, scenes of the police state were everywhere: a drill line of young Army soldiers marched; on the highway we passed a driver’s Saba car with both the rear window completely smashed out and the front windshield smashed to a pulp ~ clearly this driver had not seen the Blues Brothers for he drove it normal, without sticking his head out the driver’s window in a grotesque fashion; on the other hand, he was probably not in the mood to be funny. Later on the freeway we passed a rogue element of Basij numbering approximately 50 on their small-engined motorcycles with a further group of them piled into the back of a pick-up truck ~ they were decked out in make-shift camouflage, clubs some meters long and very long and thick chains. To be honest, I didn’t like what I say ~ who would? Already on Saturday I had shared with others that I thought the Iranian government would shortly be kicking journalists out of the country ~ some of the big name Western magazine journalists fled for fear of their safety on this day. I dug my boots in and waited patiently for what was coming ~ we just didn’t know if it would be colored with more red or as we hoped, peacefully diffused with green.