You are hereAP: HBO works to get film on dissident seen in Iran

AP: HBO works to get film on dissident seen in Iran


Documentary tells story of student, 27, killed during 2009 election uprising

June 15, 2010- HBO has aggressively sought to get its documentary on Iranian dissident Neda Agha Soltan seen by as many people as possible within Iran as the anniversary of her death during anti-government demonstrations approaches.

The film, "For Neda," was shown online and through Voice of America in Iran even before its debut on U.S. television this week, an unusual step for a cable network that traditionally guards exclusivity of its material for its paying customers.

The 27-year-old Iranian music student was shot in the heart last June 20 during a Tehran protest. Fellow demonstrators recorded images of her dying on their cell phones, and she quickly became a symbol for the crushed movement to protest Iran's questionable election results.

"I didn't want these brave people who came out on the streets and risked their lives so courageously to feel that the world had moved on and it's been forgotten," said Antony Thomas, who wrote and produced the documentary.

The film shows several times the difficult-to-watch images of Soltan lying in the street, blood slowly streaming over her face and her eyes becoming vacant. Other brutal images of Iranian security officials beating demonstrators are included.

With the help of a journalist who sneaked into the country, "For Neda" includes interviews with her friends and, most importantly, her family. Soltan's heartbroken mother shows a colorful dress her daughter bought in her final days, a store's price tag not yet removed.

Rather than being frightened about the potential repercussions of appearing in the film, Soltan's family believes that visibility makes them safer, that the authorities would not want to risk reigniting a protest by doing them harm, Thomas said.

The people behind "For Neda" thought it was as important that the film be seen within Iran as it is outside. They worked with Austin Heap, executive director of the Censorship Research Center, a techie who helped develop ways for Iranian protesters to communicate with one another online last year while authorities tried to block them.

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