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Meet the 2011 Sundance Filmmakers | “The Green Wave” Director Ali Samadi Ahadi

Meet the 2011 Sundance Filmmakers | "The Green Wave" Director Ali Samadi Ahadi

In early 2009, a new generation of Iranians hoped for change through the upcoming presidential elections. Fueled by youthful exuberance and media technology, a groundswell – the so-called Green Wave – emerged to challenge the status quo, and caused a seismic shift in the political climate. A new brand of revolution seemed to be at hand. All polls predicted challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi would be the country’s next president, however, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor, prompting a backlash of unparalleled violence and oppression and a massive surge of human-rights violations that continues today.

In this powerful and urgent documentary, filmmaker Ali Samadi Ahadi integrates animation with live-action footage, testimonials, and posts from courageous Iranian bloggers, who dared to tell the world about the anatomy of the movement and its devastating consequences. “The Green Wave” is a remarkable portrait of modern political rebellion, an exposé of government-sanctioned violence, and a vision of peace and hope that continued resistance may galvanize a new Iran. [Synopsis courtesy of the Sundance Institute]

“The Green Wave”
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi
Screenwriter: Ali Samadi Ahadi
Producer: Jan Krueger, Oliver Stoltz
Associate Producer: Roshanak Khodabakhsh, Thomas Saignes
Editor: Barbara Toennieshen, Andreas Menn
Music: Ali N. Askin
Art Director: Ali Soozandeh
Animation: Ali Reza Darwish, Ali Soozandeh

Responses courtesy of “The Green Wave” director Ali Samadi Ahadi.

Work prior to “The Green Wave”…

I was born in 1972 in the north Iranian city of Tabriz. In 1985, when I was 12 years old, I came to Germany without my family and later took my Abitur in Hannover. In Kassel I studied visual communication with a focus on film and television. At the end of the ’90s I began a career as a filmmaker. I participated in several documentaries by working as a director, film editor and cinematographer. For my documentary “Culture Clan” I was nominated for the Rose d’Or award, and in Cape Town won the Channel O Award in the category of Best Foreign Music Film. A flood of awards followed soon after for my documentary “Lost Children,” in co-production with Oliver Stoltz, which won the German Film Award 2006 as well as numerous international awards (among others the UNICEF Award, Al Jazeera Award). Recently, I made my first feature film “Salami Aleikum” in 2009.

The need to say something…

The unbelievable violence after the election in 2009 in Iran; All these killings, on the streets in Iran; All the informations about torturing and raping in unknown prisons in Iran, brought me to the conclusion that I have to say something.

Finding a way…

The big challenge was for us was to find a way to make the film without being able to travel in Iran. The next challenge was the lack of images from the events that had taken place in the past — such as streetrallies before the election or the massive suppression after the first demonstrations. The tough stance the regime took against journalists and filmmakers who took images made it very clear to us that we had to find another way to tell the story.

Filling in the gaps

We started to collect all the images we could find via news agencies, the internet or people smuggled for us out of the country. But the majority were in very poor quality and only covered fragments of situations. So we would not be able to tell the whole story with this images. They were just like broken puzzle pieces. They were big gaps in the story.

“The Green Wave” director Ali Samadi Ahadi. Image courtesy of the Sundance Film Institute.

I made the decision to use blogs. Iran is one of the leading blog writing nations. So I read more than 1500 pages of blogs and chose 15 of them. We then developed two fictional characters from the blogs: a young man and a young woman. And I decided to tell their stories through animation. All that work from financing to finalizing the film was completed in ten month! This was a big challenge.

Mixing animation with reality…

The film played very well at IDFA in Amsterdam, then got accepted in competition at Sundance and will be the Opening Film at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. I think the mix between animation and real images in a documentary is quite unique. And this makes the film attractive. The topic is also important. I think the future of the civil movement in Iran can be the key-solution for peace and security in the whole middle east. This should be of interest to Sundance audiences.

For the kids…

I will make a film for children next year and I am also working on a historical film and on a political thriller.

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