The Green Wave* Review

Film Still
  • The Green Wave film still


It's an exciting time for Islamic cinema and this doc is an extraordinary intro into Iranian politics.

Aesthetically similar to Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir, this documentary of Iran's 2009 election protests mixes animation with talking heads and archive footage for a figurative representation of a devastating time.

First-hand accounts from Iranian bloggers, activists, electoral employees and academics such as lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi and philosopher and political dissident Mohsen Kadivar take us through the sequence of events leading up to, and directly following, the people-powered uprising.

The Green Wave, directed by German-Iranian filmmaker Ali Samadi Ahadi, starts with the hopeful campaign of reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi – whose main goals were to institutionalise social justice, equality, fairness and freedom of expression while rooting out corruption and speeding up privatisation.

Ahadi demonstrates the highly-charged public appetite for political change through mobile-phone footage and animated re-enactments of a Mousavi campaign rally in a football stadium in Tehran, where supporters wear green in solidarity.

However, after the election is rigged by incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, thousands of Iranian people take to the streets to protest under the banner, 'Where is my vote?'. The protests are peaceful, sometimes silent, but the military are brought in to squash any opposition and the violent crackdown verges on genocide. Dissidents are imprisoned, tortured and often killed and the rest of the public recede in fear, any hope of change crushed with an iron fist.

One of the worst moments sees Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – who came to power after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the then-corrupt monarchy – condemn any sort of insurgency, a conservative action for a man who once symbolised Iranian liberation.

That the events are so recent, and the conditions in Iran still so volatile, makes this documentary sadly poignant. In one of the final shots blogger and journalist Mehdi Mohseni breaks down as he recalls the militia violence and continuing oppression. The worst part, he says from the safety of his new home in Berlin, is  seeing the kind of freedom young people enjoy in other parts of the world and fearing that Iranians may never experience it.

In its best moments, this film leaves a legacy to those who were tortured and killed. That we watch it means these people did not die in vain.

View 5 comments

Brendan O'Neill

4 years ago
Ali Khomeni did not come to power in the 1979 revolution - it was his near namesake predecessor Ruhollah Khomeini


3 years ago
Actually the current supreme leader is not Ruhollah Komeini's namesake. His name is Ali Khamenei. Different surname altogether.


3 years ago
Brilliant movie - saw it at the human rights film festival - it's really impressively put together considering the majority of the footage is mobile phone camera/animation/interview. really nicely done.


3 years ago
Hey Brendan, Me and Rosemary are halfway across the world right now in Korea (at my desk at work), but it's a pleasant surprise to see you on here. I can't wait to see the green wave when it comes out. Did you catch it at the cinema? I love the possibilities of documentary animation.


15 years ago
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