Breaking away from the traditional mould normally associated with documentary filmmaking, director Ali Samadi Ahadi’s The Green Wave’s (2010) unconventional approach to the genre is more akin to fictitious storytelling, resulting in a powerfully engrossing and uniquely presented account of Iran’s Green Revolution.
The Green Wave follows the protests which accompanied Iran’s 2009 presidential elections – regarded by many to have been fixed in favour of the current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protests were given several names including the Sea of Green, the Green Revolution and The Green Wave, reflecting both the colour of Iran’s national flag and the campaign colour of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Beginning as a peaceful plea against what appeared to be an obvious case of vote rigging; these protests were soon crushed under an unforgivable onslaught of violence. A period shrouded in controversy and governmental censorship, there are still many afraid to discuss the abhorrent events which occurred.
The revolution remains topical due to the protestor’s reliance on social-networking sites such as Twitter to communicate with each other. Ahadi’s film strives to capture this modern approach to protesting through a myriad of revolutionary storytelling techniques such as animation narrated by blogger testaments and the sporadic use of twitter feeds to relay a breakdown of events, as well as the usual talking head segments we’ve become accustomed to. These deft touches create an easy to digest exposition of the events, successfully drawing the viewer into the subject matter, whilst simultaneously expressing this climate of escalated fear.
This visual amalgamation of home video footage, animation and impassioned interviews captures the urgency of these harrowing tales, whilst successfully relaying the severity of human rights violations which took place. It leaves the viewer stunned, as rarely does a documentary (normally renowned for taking a more languid and ponderous approach examining its subject) play out at such a rapid pace.
The animation is perhaps the most noteworthy dramatic tool at play, adding substance to these accounts whilst the subdued shading in these scenes acts as a metaphor for the repression of free speech. The talking head segments add balance, grounding the film and preventing it from appearing to sensationalise these events simply to provoke an emotional response from the audience.
Alhadi has managed to create a poetic, yet insightful expose of a repressive regime known primarily for its apparent nuclear interests and less for its government’s tyrannous stance towards it people. Hopefully, The Green Wave will successfully relay these unforgivable incidents of brutality to a worldwide audience and from these destructive waves attempt to create a calm and peaceful future.