For Neda


Written by Richard Lemmer
12 Monday 12th July 2010
Did you know that Neda Agha-Soltan, the face of last year’s Iranian protests, was really killed by
CIA operatives? If you don’t believe that, then how about hearing the true account of Neda’s death
at the hands of BBC-hired killer? Or, if you’re really picky, you could contact the Iranian embassy
directly, and I’m sure they’ll prepare a personalised bull-shit story. Thankfully, Don’t Panic got a little
closer to the truth at a screening of the documentary
For Neda, at the Frontline Club, Paddington.

Anthony Thomas’s documentary, For Neda, highlights some of the Orwellian absurdities that the
Iranian government perpetuated before and after last year’s election protests in Iran. As anger grew
over apparent vote-rigging to ensure four more years of Muhammed Ahmadinjad, Neda Agha-Soltan
decided to take her anger to the streets. The 26 year-old aspiring singer had no idea her first political
street protest would also be her last.

For Neda shows all available footage of Neda, accompanied by her music teacher, in the minuets
leading up to her tragic death. There is even footage that captures the shots that killed Neda. Her death
is short, brutal and visceral: Neda lies on the ground as she drools blood, her eyes wide with panic,
before her entire face is lost under her own blood. Time called it “probably the most widely witnessed
death in human history.” For Neda helps to personalise and contextualise the grizzly 2009 viral video.
Before footage of her death, Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehegan is shown interviewing Neda’s
mother, who breaks down relating the story of how she begged Neda not to join the protests. After
showing Neda’s last breath, the documentary charts the Iranian government’s spin job on her death,
culminating in a broadcast show that claims Neda was an actress, now alive and well, who merely
sprayed fake blood on her face.

For Neda has been shown four times in the US, as well as being broadcast in France and Italy, yet
it is still to find a broadcaster in the UK. Amazingly, For Neda has been shown seven times in Iran,
with the government shutting down the power in whole areas to try to censor the broadcast. Making
the documentary was hard enough: Saeed had to pose as a holiday maker to approach the Soltan’s
family run travel agent, and then had to smuggle over 30 disks of interviews out of the country. He
was not a happy bunny when he found his flight out of Iran was delayed by three hours – thankfully
nothing more sinister than a case of the pilot oversleeping. Despite the threat posed by the government,
Saeed explained to the Frontline club that Neda’s family feel the “the more upfront they are, the
more coverage they create, the safer they are.” Whether For Neda will receive any coverage on UK
television is yet to be seen.

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