“The Green Wave” is a protest film, a lesson in endurance, and a terrifying exposé of the staggering human rights violations committed in the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian presidential election.
Ali Samadi Ahadi’s documentary mixes mobile phone footage, animation and interviews with bloggers and activists to follow the course of the Iranian green movement during the highly controversial re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over populous candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Screened on the first day of Egypt’s parliamentary elections as part of the fourth Panorama of the European Film, “The Green Wave” serves as an often heartbreaking yet powerful warning against religious fanaticism and politics.
Like Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, the film is powered by the internet, in which voices of Iran’s reform activists are relayed via blog-post readings and on-screen tweets to portray a day-by-day account of the events.
The combination of animator Ali Reza Darvish’s drawings and interviews with journalist and blogger Mehdi Mohseni, award-winning journalist Mitra Khalatabari, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Shia cleric Mohsen Kadivar and international law professor Payam Akhavan create a vivid kaleidoscope of the brutal human rights attacks by Ahmadinejad’s regime.
Told from the point of view of Mousavi’s supporters, the colorful animation and the heart-wrenching testimonials from the exiled interviewees offer a keen and engaging insight into the psyche of Iran’s failed elections and obvious corruption.
The most visually captivating element of the film is the animated sequences — the rotoscope styled frames somehow make the reality seem more vivid, stranger, and certainly more penetrating. The animated sequences are often in shades of purple and green, giving the film a bleak and often somber tone.
The film uses real documented footage to show the millions of Mousavi supporters who came out the voting polls on June 12, 2009. They were armed with optimism, adopting the color green as their emblem to create visual solidarity because “Green is the color of hope.”
The film quickly loses any vestige of hope, however, with the enraging footage that explicitly shows the government-sponsored violence that terrorized Iranians the instant the polls closed.
Soon after, the bloggers, activists and those campaigning for Mousavi were faced with the horrors of incarceration, torture, rape, and on some occasions, death.
After 10-months under transitional military rule and with political uncertainty and unrest gripping Egypt, “The Green Wave’s” warnings ring unsettlingly close to home.
Lessons can be learned from the Iranian Green Movement however: the tactic of wearing green to create solidarity, while exposing an undeniable visual representation of the populous opposition.
Egyptian liberals should potentially adopt a color to be worn in unison by voters for the current parliamentary elections and the upcoming presidential elections, this method could help bring accountability to those counting the ballot boxes, at the same time creating visual solidarity.
“The Green Wave” is rebellious in nature; both the filmmaker and the interviewees provide highly personal and dangerous accounts of excessive human rights violations. The film urges filmmakers to document and honestly expose these times of transition, while also empowering them to create pictures of dissent.
“The Green Wave” proves that films, in their own right, can be a form of protest and often times can have a far deeper penetration and lasting resonance with viewers.
While the film is overwhelmingly dark and disturbing, a silver lining can be found in the unrelenting endurance of the Iranian people, reminding us here in Egypt that change does not happen overnight, and that patience is often the last refuge of the optimist.
The film closes with an activist’s blog stating, “I will rebuild you, Iran, my homeland, even if I have to use my body as the clay. I will build you a roof, even if I have to use my bones. If I die, I will come from the grave to rob my enemies with my screams. I will rebuild you.”